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In a stunning turn in the race for a seat on the Crestwood advisory neighborhood commission, incumbent James H. Jones has reclaimed his commissioner job over upstart Jeff Hildebrand. On Election Night, it appeared that Hildebrand had scored an upset for the ages when he bested the veteran politico, 289–288, on Nov. 7.

But the uncertified tally was just that—it hadn’t included absentee and provisional ballots which were counted on Nov. 17.

Those ballots were enough to return Hildebrand to the political backwoods. Today, with the election results certified, Jones captured the win over Hildebrand by eight votes, 313–305.

Jones marked the occasion by faxing a written statement to Washington City Paper. In his typed missive, he admits that the last few weeks—with narrow defeat looming over his head—had been tough. “In the last few weeks, I received many telephone calls from well wishers lending their support, hopes and prayers,” the statement reads. “One call that I will always treasure is from a cagey octogenarian lady in my community who cited the City Paper’s article that prematurely and falsely reported my defeat. She said, ‘Mr. Jones, don’t worry, keep your chin up. In the end, it will be their defeat, not yours. God will cast the deciding vote.’ He did.”

Twenty-four other Crestwood residents cast absentee and provisional votes for Jones as well. In a subsequent interview, Jones is less humble about his close call. “I thought I was going to win,” he says. “I never figured that it would be this close. We live and learn.”

Jones has not yet received a concession from his opponent. “Protocol says he should reach out to me, and I don’t have any intention of breaking that,” he says. “That sounds so trite. Just say, I just expect a call from him.”

Hildebrand says he’s just happy that he almost won: “It shows I have a base, and it means I can be back out there in 2008.” He will not ask for a recount.