Friday, September 25, 2009

Cheddie claims First Ward seat
By Jamie Larson
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 1:16 AM CDT
Geeta Cheddie has beaten incumbent Carole Osterink by one vote for the Democratic nomination for First Ward alderman. The race between the two was decided by six absentee ballots, counted Tuesday morning by Board of Elections officials.

Sarah Sterling won one of the two Common Council seats for the First Ward outright on Sept. 15, the night of the Primary election. Cheddie and Osterink, however were only separated by two votes at the time, with Cheddie holding a slight lead of 44 to 42.

The six absentee ballots, counted Tuesday in the County Board of Supervisors chamber, awarded Cheddie three more votes, sending her total to 47. Osterink picked up four more votes, leaving her one shy of tying Cheddie at 46.

Had the two candidates tied, the Board of Elections stated that the tie-breaking vote would be cast by the Hudson City Democratic Committee. The committee had already endorsed Osterink and Sterling, and city Democrats said they felt this meant that in the case of a tie, Osterink would have won.

Cheddie forced the Primary by collecting petition signatures, allowing her to challenge the two committee-endorsed Democrats. While she considers herself a lifelong Democrat, had Cheddie not received the Primary victory she would have stayed in the race, as she has also secured the endorsements of all other Hudson political parties.

With Osterink out of the race Sterling and Cheddie will run unopposed in the November general election.

This was Cheddie’s first time running for elected office and s\he said she was extremely excited Tuesday when she found out the results. “Three great people ran,” Cheddie said, “and I’m grateful for the voters, and I can’t wait to serve the city of Hudson and especially the First Ward.”

Sterling, who campaigned with Osterink, congratulated Cheddie. “It was a very tight race,” Sterling said. “(Cheddie) did very well, particularly for her first time out. Geeta will be a new face on the council, which will be interesting for all of us.”

CHDC Chairman Victor Mendolia said Cheddie proved herself to be an adept politician by fighting for the primary, and now has the committee’s support. “We congratulate her,” Mendolia said. “It was a good win.”

Some tension was created during the final days of the primary campaign when Mendolia sent an e-mail to First Ward Democrats telling them why they shouldn’t vote for Cheddie.

Cheddie felt that the e-mail misconstrued the circumstances around her tenure as deputy Democratic commissioner of the Board of Elections. Mendolia said Cheddie’s time at the board was “fraught with acrimony and problems,” going on to say she colluded against other Democrats, leading to one commissioner’s resignation, and her firing months later.

Cheddie said that Mendolia’s comments were spurious and untrue and hoped Mendolia will apologize. The committee chairman said before the election that he stood by the comments in the e-mail. Mendolia said that he will support Cheddie now that she has won the party’s nomination.

“I want to move forward without the bickering,” Cheddie said. “I think everyone did their best.”

Mendolia said he hopes the past won’t get in the way of the working well with Cheddie. He said campaigns sometimes become contentious but once they are over they have to put their differences aside. “You have a campaign, then you get down to the people’s business,” Mendolia said.

Osterink could not be reached for comment Tuesday but Mendolia said Osterink’s presence will be missed. “Carole is one of the hardest working people on the council,” Mendolia said. “I think she’s a solid, really thoughtful person.”

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