Dr. William Spencer defeated Elizabeth Black for the 18th Legislative District after the Suffolk County Board of Elections completed its tally of absentee ballots on Thursday.
Elections Commissioner Anita S. Katz said that the Spencer, a Democrat, won with a total 8,200 votes to Black's 7,933. When the polls closed last week, Spencer had a 179-vote edge.
Spencer's victory keeps the job in Democratic hands since he is succeeding the term limited majority leader, .
The hardfought battle between Black, a retired teacher and trustee of the Huntington school board, and Spencer, an otolaryngologist at , drew a comparatively high turnout as issues involving the closing of Jack Abrams School, water quality and housing dominated the debate.
The campaign as and property gates were churned out.
Spencer said, "I’m very happy and very excited; I’m glad to able to get our message out there. It was very close; I would like to salute Liz Black for running a very competitive campaign and being willing to step up and serve. I’m looking forward to working with her in our community for the foreseeable future.
“I’m also looking forward to sitting down with Jon Cooper, as I have many times in the past and making sure we’re able to continue some of the important issues without interruption.
“I understand that there are a lot of people who didn’t vote for me. I think it’s important to reach out to them and be a legislator for all communities.”
For her part, Black isssued a concession statement Thursday, thanking her supporters.
"It was such a close race and it is clear that so many were supportive of my message. I would like to thank the many volunteers, friends and family members that gave so much of their energy, time and spirit," she said. "I am so proud of the campaign that we ran, always keeping an honest and clear meaning as to what needs to be done for the people of the 18th Legislative District as well as for the people of Suffolk County. There are many serious issues facing our community in the days to come. It is my hope that our new legislator, William Spencer, does what is right for the people of our district. As for me, I will remain active and committed to the people of our district."
Katz said the tally of more than 500 absentee ballots took the better part of a day.
Cooper said of Spencer, “I’m thrilled at his victory. I'm proud to support him; he’s a good friend. He’s going to be a great advocate for the 18th District. I’ve worked closely with him, and shares my views on just about every key issue facing Suffolk County and of concern to my constituents.
"He’s going to be a fresh voice, providing some real expertise on medical care issues, bringing a whole other perspective on such issuses as the Dolan Family Health Center."