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How did Gardner unseat incumbent Cook?   ADVERTISEMENT

How did Gardner unseat incumbent Cook?

YATES COUNTY—After a very close district attorney race that came down to absentee ballots, challenger Valerie Gardner has secured a majority lead over incumbent Jason Cook. Democratic Deputy Commissioner Stephanie Mann said the count stood at 2,774 votes for Gardner and 2,688 votes for Cook, and of the remaining ballots to be counted it is mathematically impossible for Cook to win. However, the official results will not be announced until Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 20 or no later than Friday, Nov. 22.
Gardner came back strong in the Nov. 5 general election, an improbable occurrence after initially losing to Cook in the Republican primary election Sept. 10. After failing to gain the victory in the Republican primary, Gardner filed to run independently to get on the ballot again in the general election. Mann said the independent victory over an incumbent Republican was a “remarkable feat.”
“That’s democracy in action, the little guy can still win,” Mann said. “You don’t have to be one of the big two. We had two well-qualified candidates of course, but Yates County makes up its own mind, that’s for certain.”
Gardner ran on a platform that involved reducing one of the two full-time assistant district attorney positions to a part-time position in order to reduce operating expenses in the department.
“I guess [Gardner succeeded with] good, old-fashioned hard work,” Mann said of how Gardner was able to pull off the comeback. “She certainly made the budget an issue. It definitely came up a lot from what I understand. I think the budget is an issue for everyone.”
Gardner said she had already received a phone call conceding the race as the absentee ballot results were counted. Gardner said now that the election outcome is certain, she will be getting right to work prosecuting crime in Yates County, along with making the office more effective and responsive. She said she has a lot to do and has “already hit the ground running.”
“I am actually quite humbled to win and have the support of so many people,” Gardner said. “I can appreciate that anyone who went to the polls on election day had to look for me on the ballot. The fact that so many people did make that extra effort to not only go vote but also make it a point to find me on the ballot and vote for me is just tremendously humbling.”




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