Syracuse educator Rachel May emerged as the winner in the Democratic primary for state Senate District 53 Thursday, as incumbent David Valesky conceded after absentee and other outstanding votes were counted.
Valesky, however, remains on the line of the Independence Party and Women’s Equality Party for the general election and said he hasn’t decided whether to actively campaign.
May was the apparent winner Sept. 13 but her margin was less than the number of outstanding absentee and affidavit ballots. On Thursday, however, she remained ahead after elections officials in the three counties of the district, Onondaga, Oneida and Madison, counted the ballots.
Valesky issued a concession statement afterward but deferred a decision on the Independence Line. “Now that all the votes have been counted, I congratulate Rachel May on her win in the Democratic primary. Ms. May and her supporters deserve credit for their hard work and tireless advocacy on behalf of progressive causes.” In June, many of my supporters devoted considerable time and effort in helping to secure the Independence Party and Women’s Equality Party lines. As a result, my name will appear on the November 6 ballot. Since last week’s primary, countless individuals have urged me to actively campaign as an independent. Out of respect for them, I will take some time to consider all options going forward.”
The district includes the City of Oneida, Kirkland, Augusta, all of Madison County, and much of Syracuse and Onondaga County.
Valesky, first elected in 2004, joined in the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of Democratic senators who in 2012 sided with Senate Republicans, providing enough votes to let the GOP gain leadership control of the Senate until this spring when the group announced a deal to again side with Senate Democrats. Five of the senators lost primaries last week. Two won.
May is a former high school teacher who lives in Syracuse and is coordinator of sustainability education at Syracuse University. She was endorsed by Oneida County Democratic Committee, according to her campaign website. May is on the Working Families Party line. May campaigned by saying she would be a “true champion for Democratic priorities.”
The GOP candidate is Janet Burman of Onondaga County.