By Jeffery Smith jsmith@the-leader.com

BATH - The race to fill the city’s 2nd Ward seat ended up a tie between the two candidates after absentee ballots were tallied Wednesday morning.

Vicky Olin, Steuben County Republican Commissioner Board of Elections, said the battle between incumbent Michele Beckman and challenger Kate Paterson was a 273-273 tie after the paper ballots were counted.

“It’s a non-election,” Olin said.

Republican incumbent Beckman had led democratic challenger Paterson 243-224, prior to the absentee ballots being added.

“I’m surprised that the absentee ballots played such a significant role in this particular election,” Mayor Rich Negri. “It’s very surprising."

Negri said the City Council will appoint a person to fill the seat in 2017 at its January monthly meeting. An appointed candidate can only serve until the next election.

Both candidates plan to run in the November 2017 special election to fill the remaining two-year term.

The council voted 5-3, on straight-party lines, selecting Beckman, a strategic planning supervisor at Corning Inc., over Democratic candidate Paterson in an April vote to fill the position vacated by Lee Welles.

“This shows, every vote counts,” said Peterson, moments after the absentee ballots were counted at the Steuben County Board of Elections.

Peterson said she will run again in January to be appointed to the City Council and run for the seat in the November general election.

“I can’t express how important it is for everybody to get out there and vote,” said Joseph Welch, city Democratic Committee chairman. “Because every vote would have counted in this race, that’s for sure.”

Beckman said she will run for the seat appointment in January and in the November general election.

“It is important for everyone to vote,” Beckman said. “It’s a privilege. This was a tricky vote due to the presidential race. But I’m pleased the numbers, as high as they were.”

Negri said he expects the results at the January City Council appointment will be the same as they were last April. The City Council currently has five Republicans and three Democrats.

Tom Dimitroff, a city historian, said the election may be the first time a City Council seat race ended in a tie.

“I don’t ever remember that happening before,” Dimitroff said. “It unusual and unique.”