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Romeo leads Boyce in County Clerk race

Jamie Romeo, left, and Karla Boyce.
Jamie Romeo, left, and Karla Boyce.

In the race for Monroe County Clerk, Democrat Jamie Romeo held a lead over Republican Karla Boyce, though given the number of outstanding absentee ballots that could affect the race's outcome, she was hardly assured a victory.

Romeo, whom Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed to the county clerk post earlier this year, pulled in 52% of the vote between Election Day and early voting, while her Republican opponent, County Legislator Karla Boyce, received 48% of the vote.

But the county Board of Elections reported that as of Monday, it had received 95,572 absentee ballots out of the 136,462 it had provided to voters, with more set to come in between then and the Nov. 10 cutoff. The ballots could easily sway the race, and the Board of Elections won't start counting them until Nov. 16 due to state law.

“While I appreciate the support, I appreciate the support of chairman (Zach) King, and the Democratic Committee, and all the people who voted for me, I also know, moving forward, that we need to make sure every vote is counted,” Romeo told Democrats gathered at the Strathallan Hotel in Rochester.

This year’s county clerk’s race was relatively low-key. The candidates relied heavily on social media and talked mostly about what they’ve done or would do to improve customer service at the County Clerk’s Office and its state Department of Motor Vehicles branches.

Both candidates also emphasized their backgrounds as they tried to build name recognition.

Romeo served in the state Assembly for one term, was chair and executive director of the Monroe County Democratic Committee, was chief of staff for former state Senator Ted O’Brien, and was a legislative aide to the county Legislature’s Democratic conference.

When the coronavirus pandemic forced government agencies to halt in-person business, Romeo led the office as it shifted many of its operations online, including the electronic filing of real estate transactions. She’s since worked to reopen the County Clerk and DMV offices, to provide computer terminals at the clerk’s office that people can use for many DMV transactions, and to resume monthly Saturday hours for passports and pistol permits.

Boyce is a former executive director of the Rochester-Monroe County Youth Bureau. She currently works as youth development and teenage services coordinator at Coordinated Care Service Inc.

She’s also the first county legislator to get elected, serve 10 years and leave due to term limits, and then get elected back to the chamber.

Boyce was at the center of controversy last year when she introduced legislation making it illegal to harass or annoy police officers and other first responders. Despite substantial opposition, legislation passed along party lines. But after fierce backlash, Boyce early this year co-sponsored legislation to repeal the law.

Jeremy Moule is CITY's news editor. He can be reached at