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Williams wins 22nd Congressional District race; Toby Shelley to be next Onondaga County Sheriff

Staff at the Onondaga County Board of Elections work feverishly Wednesday to sort and scan absentee and affidavit ballots.
Scott Willis
Staff at the Onondaga County Board of Elections work feverishly Wednesday to sort and scan absentee and affidavit ballots.

We now know the results of two of the three closes races from election night after Onondaga County finished counting absentee and affidavit ballots. Republican Brandon Williams will represent the 22nd congressional district after holding on to his narrow lead over Democrat Francis Conole. In a statement, Conole says he called Williams to offer his congratulations, and wished him all the best in Congress representing Central New York. WAER News caught up with both elections commissioners Wednesday as the ballots were being scanned. Democratic commissioner Dustin Czarny says most of their work is done.

"Once the unofficial final results are released, we're looking at 99.99 percent of the ballots in. The likelihood of a lead change at that point would be small."

Republican elections commissioner Michele Sardo says there are only a handful of ballots remaining.

"The military can still come in. They have two weeks, so next Tuesday would be the last day for them to come in. There are cured ballots that can still come in. They have seven days."

Cured ballots are ballots fixed by voters after minor errors.

The other race decided by the final scanning of ballots was for Onondaga County Sheriff. Democrat Toby Shelley will be the county’s top cop after edging out Republican Esteban Gonzalez by more than two percent of the vote. In a statement, Gonzalez congratulated Shelley on his victory.

“There is no longer a path to victory, so I am fulfilling my Election Night promise and conceding,” Gonzalez said. “I am thankful to the countless supporters who got behind my candidacy."

That leaves the 50th senate district race as the remaining undecided race, with incumbent democrat John Mannion leading Republican Rebecca Shiroff by just 27 votes. That triggers an automatic manual recount. In a statement, Shiroff says she knew this would be a tight race, and the unofficial results confirm that.

"We look forward to the hand recount where every ballot will be thoroughly reviewed and tallied. I am hopeful at the end of that process I will be in a better position to serve the people of Central New York as their next state senator."

Mannion did not release a statement by publication time. Commissioner Czarny says they were expecting that race to come down to a manual count, which means they’ll have to go through 90,000 ballots. The results in that race won’t be known until sometime after Thanksgiving. Czarny says it’s important that voters know that the board of elections has the final say on results, not the candidates or their campaigns.

"It's not really legally a responsibility of a campaign to concede or declare victory. What we're looking for here is what the votes are. That should be what drives the narrative in close races."

To be clear, neither Shiroff nor Mannion have conceded or declared victory. And Gonzalez didn’t concede until Wednesday evening. However in the 22nd congressional district race, Brandon Williams claimed victory in the overnight hours after election day before thousands more votes had to be counted. Francis Conole only conceded Wednesday night.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at