ROCHESTER - Longtime City Councilor David Walker has requested a recount in his Ward 4 Seat A race against political newcomer Ashley Desrochers, but told The Rochester Voice on Wednesday he isn't counting on a reversal of what political observers see as the "shocker" of the Nov. 2 vote.
Walker lost his bid to continue his 26-year-long tenure on the board after losing to Desrochers by 24 votes, 387-363.
"I'm requesting the recount, but I'm clear-eyed about reversing the end result," he said, adding the intent of the recount is to not only confirm the results but check the signatures of any absentee ballots.
Ironically, Walker began his long career on City Council in 1995 during the election of former mayor Harvey Bernier, whom Walker honored during a presentation of a plaque and gavel at an Oct. 19 City Council meeting.
Walker said he wasn't shocked at all by his narrow loss to Desrochers, adding he was targeted by young activist Democrats.
"It wasn't unexpected the way the race played out," he told The Voice. "We had a lot of young Dems - between five and 10 - going through my ward. It's supposed to be a nonpartisan race, and young Dems are going through my ward."
Walker also noted that Desrochers had been the beneficiary of four separate "mailers" during the campaign that may have pushed her across the finish line.
The mailers, slick business-size postcards that are delivered snail mail, cost about $1,500 for a ward the size of Ward 4, which has about 4,000 residents, Walker estimated.
Desrochers said Tri-City Democrats helped and endorsed her in her bid to oust Walker, but said she was only aware of two mailers, one that she paid for with her own money and one paid for by mayoral candidate Palana Hunt-Hawkins, who lost to Paul Callaghan.
Desrochers said she, herself, raised some $2,000 for her campaign, which she defended.
"I don't think it's wrong that like minded people help me and believe in the same issues I do," she said.
Walker said he was told during the summer that Democrats would be targeting him but campaigned the same way he has since 1995.
"I went door to door, and had positive feedback wherever I went," he said. "I had my homemade flyer, and I can say I did not take one single dime from any Republican organizations."
He said he spent less than $150.
"I made homemade flyers and did it on my own printer," he quipped.
He said he wanted to emphasize he is not "trying to whine" about his loss.
"I'm not bitter, I have two years off and then I'll have at it again," he said.
As for Desrocher, he said, "I wish her all the luck in the world, and will help her anyway I can."
Walker also pointed our that, ironically, the same huge turnover that accompanied Mayor Bernier in 1995 is about to occur again on Jan. 4.
"This is the same thing that happened then," he said. "With folks not running, we have eight people missing from this council to the next, a major brain drain. Back then it took a solid year before we knew enough to see what we're doing. It'll be a slog for a little while."
Also seeking a recount is Laura Zimmerman, who lost a Ward 4 Seat B race to Laura Hainey. 288-266.