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No winner in Utica Common Council 1st Ward race, candidate accused of punching poll worker

By By ANDREW DONOVAN

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The race for the Common Council 1st Ward took some interesting twists Tuesday night with one candidate who was not even supposed to be on the ballot appearing to get the most votes and another candidate facing harassment charges.

The race remained too close to call Tuesday night between Democrat Frank Vescera and Democrat Ed Hill after Nedzad Smajic received votes when he was not even supposed to be on the ballot.

The Oneida County Board of Elections is looking into why Smajic received these votes. The Board says he was taken off of the ballot after the State Appellate Court ruled in favor of Vescera. Oneida County Board of Elections says that the votes currently listed for him are not necessarily votes in his favor, but possibly Vescera's.

The political battle also led to a physical battle at one of the Utica polling places, according to the Utica Police Department. Authorities say Hill and Vescera got into a verbal argument at Kennedy Plaza Apartments and when a polling worker stepped in to break up the fight, the worker was punched in the face by Hill.

Police said Hill became angry with Vescera and accused him of congregating in close proximity to the polling table. During the confrontation Hill allegedly “chest bumped” Vescera, according to UPD.

Witnesses at the scene told police that Michael Colon, a poll watcher, intervened in an attempt to separate Hill and Vescera. Colon was then punched with a closed fist by Hill, in his report to police. The poll watcher was actually a poll watcher for the Vescera Campaign.

Frank Vescera says the argument and fight at Kennedy Plaza Apartments was greatly exaggerated. Vescera said, "I stopped him very calmly and said, 'Ed, I believe you're out of line.' At that point, he lunged and hit Mr. Colon, who is also a poll watcher. And that is the story. The altercation was between Mr. Hill and Mr. Colon."

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