Tolbert, who challenged incumbent Timothy Howard in the Erie County Sheriff's race, has contacted his opponent and offered his congratulations for the latter's apparent win. But Tolbert isn't conceding the race just yet.
In a written statement released Wednesday afternoon, Tolbert suggests the race remains so close that it would be "prudent and sensible" to await the Erie County Board of Elections' official vote certification.
Howard and the Erie County Republican Committee claimed victory shortly after midnight Wednesday.
Democratic party leadership points to an estimated 7,000 absentee ballots that need to be counted. Howard, as of Wednesday, unofficially held a lead of 3,850 votes over Tolbert. Theoretically, the race could still tilt in Tolbert's favor if the absentee vote count supports it.
Tolbert's campaign declined a request for an interview.
His written statement reads as follows: "I placed a call to Sheriff Howard earlier this morning to congratulate him on his apparent win and also to tell him that, given the extraordinary closeness of the race, I believe it is prudent and sensible to await the official vote certification by the Erie County Board of Elections, which includes the tally of all absentee ballots.
"Not only was it a close race, it was a tough, hard fought contest. Strong words were used and sharp elbows thrown on both sides. However, it is now time to put all of that behind us and work together for our community.
"The men and women in uniform who protect us – in the sheriff’s office and every law enforcement agency in the county – all have my respect and appreciation. The growing problem of the jails becoming catch basins for the addicted and those suffering from mental illness has to be addressed in a bigger way, not just managed on the margins. This is not one individual or one office’s problem, it is a community problem, here in Western New York, across the New York State, and throughout the nation.
"My love for our community is what motivates my desire to serve. Western New York is a special place, the best place on earth. I was reminded of this time and time again as I campaigned throughout the county. I will always cherish the support and fellowship I encountered in every town, village and election district.
"Our values in Western New York are hard work, dignity in who we are, and respect for each other. We are the community of good neighbors and good friends. We help each other out, we don’t turn our back. Let’s raise up those values. Let’s show the nation that we are one community working together for everyone’s greater good.
"Thank you to everyone who supported my campaign, who marched with us, rang doorbells, made phone calls, watched the polls, and rallied voters. I am blessed to have had your support."