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Most incumbents triumph in Niagara County town races Somerset supervisor holds lead of 15 votes

Incumbents rolled Tuesday in the vast majority of town races in Niagara County, including hotly contested races for supervisor in Pendleton, Lewiston and Wheatfield.

Minor party lines, meanwhile, might have helped the Somerset supervisor hold onto his seat but provided little assistance to the Royalton supervisor, who lost by a wide margin to a town board member.

Somerset Supervisor Richard J. Meyers was involved in one of the biggest surprises in local contests, holding on to his seats by 15 votes in an unofficial count that does not include 73 absentee ballots, which won't be counted until next week.

Meyers carries his lead into the absentee vote count despite losing the Republican line in a September primary to John E. Sweeney Jr., a former supervisor who ran Tuesday on both the Democrat and Republican lines.

Somerset also elected a new councilman, Daniel M. Engert, while Randall J. Wayner, an incumbent councilman, was holding on his seat by just 12 votes over another newcomer, Robert J. Degnan.

Absentee ballots also will be needed to determine the winners of that race.

Meyers, who won in a special election against Sweeney last year, told The Buffalo News he knew he had support from many voters, but called it "fairly rare to win without major party backing."

"I've been outside the circle that have been in control for a long time, but now we have a new board member and a chance to completely turn the board around," Meyers said.

In the Town of Lockport, where a Republican slate ran unopposed, voters wanting change made their voices heard in a strong write-in campaign, which may have not changed the outcome, but sent a message.

Voters also rejected all propositions in Lockport, Pendleton and Wilson to lengthen terms of office to four from two years for some elected officials.

Here's a town by town look at election results:

Cambria -- Supervisor Wright H. Ellis, running on the Democrat, Republican and Working Families lines, gathered 849 votes, defeating Shirley E. Gregory Urtel, the Independent and Conservative parties' candidate, who received 367 votes.

Two seats on Town Board remain too close to call.

George J. Bush was expected to retain his seat with 741 votes; challenger Joseph Ohol, with 636 votes, was leading Matthew P. Foe, an incumbent, by just 16 votes, Forty-one absentee ballots had been issued.

Highway Superintendent Jon T. MacSwan ran unopposed, as did Town Justice Amel S. Jowdy Jr.

Hartland -- Most candidates ran unopposed, with the contested race for town justice resulting in 419 votes for Joanne L. Sullivan to 132 for Brian D. Gross.

Also elected were Supervisor William A. Annable; two incumbent councilmen, F. David Snyder Jr. and Daniel S. Hill; Highway Superintendent Keith E. Hurtgam; Town Clerk Beverly B. Snell; and Tax Collector Katherine A. Hirner.

Lewiston -- All incumbents were returned, including Supervisor Fred M. Newlin, a Democrat, who was elected to a third two-year term with 2,404 votes over Ronald R. Winkley, former Lewiston police chief. Winkley, who ran on the Republican, Independent, Conservative and Working Families lines, received 2,082 votes.

"It was a tough race. [Winkley] was well-known and popular, with a 26-year history as a public figure," Newlin said. "In a way, I felt like the underdog. I just ran on the issues and my achievements: getting cheaper electric rates for residents and my opposition to truck traffic and let the voters decide."

Councilmen Ernest C. Palmer, with 2,586 votes, and Michael A. Johnson, with 2,502 votes, defeated challengers Justin J. Birmingham and Mark V. Sarro.

Town Clerk Carol J. Brandon, with 2,399 votes, defeated Kristine M. Hatfield, 1,723; Highway Superintendent Steven L. Reiter, 2,826, defeated David J. Knapp, 1,542; and two unopposed town justices, Hugh C. Gee Sr. and Thomas J. Sheeran, were re-elected.

Lockport -- A proposition to lengthen the term of office for supervisor to four from two years was soundly defeated, 1,839 to 790.

Supervisor Marc R. Smith, Republican, Independent and Conservative, ran unopposed, receiving 1,950 votes.

A large write-in campaign by a group calling itself Taxpayers for Accountable Government accounted for several hundred write-in ballots, though not enough to change the outcome of races involving unopposed candidates for supervisor and Town Board. Running unopposed for board seats were Cheryl A. Antkowiak and Paul W. Siejak; and for town justice was Leonard G. Tilney Jr.

Newfane -- The top two vote-getters in Town Board races were Republicans Laura Rutland, 1,669 votes, and Marcus R. Hall, 1,231, who defeated Democrats Richard Hickman, with 526 votes, and Michelle J. Wheeler, 521.

Town Justice Bruce Barnes, with 1,129 votes, defeated Victor E. Couturier, 921.

Running unopposed were Supervisor Timothy R. Horanburg, Highway Superintendent Phillip R. Erck and Town Clerk Mildred M. Kramp.

In the tax receiver race, Judith A. Meahl gathered 1,346 votes to defeat Nancy A. White, who got 528 votes.

Town of Niagara -- The race for two Town Board seats was won by newcomer Robert E. Herman Sr. with the endorsements of all party lines, who received 1,057 votes, and incumbent Robert A. Clark, Democrat and Working Families, who received 751 votes. They defeated incumbent LaVern E. Haseley, running on the Republican, Independent and Conservative lines. He got 646 votes.

Running unopposed were incumbent Supervisor Steven C. Richards, Highway Superintendent Michael J. Moyer, Town Clerk Sylvia Virtuoso, Town Justice James J. Faso, and Tax Collector Pamela L. Weigel.

Pendleton -- Voters rejected four propositions to lengthen terms of office to four from two years for supervisor, town clerk, highway superintendent and tax collector.

In the race for supervisor, Democratic incumbent James A. Riester earned 65 percent of the vote in his defeat of Martin J. Korkuc, who ran on the Republican, Independent and Conservative lines.

Riester received 1,091 votes, while Korkuc got 578 votes.

Running unopposed for Town Board were David A. Leible, who received 1,051 votes, and Gerald K. Farnham Jr., who earned 997. Also running unopposed were Highway Superintendent Jeffrey R. Stowell, Town Clerk Terry J. Pienta, Town Justice Timothy P. Murphy and Tax Collector George A. Mislin.
In Porter, Republican incumbent Councilmen Jeffrey P. Baker and Lawrence H. White were the top two vote-getters in the Town Board race, with 990 votes and 861 votes, respectively.

Coming in third, based on unofficial results, was former Councilman William A. Choboy, a Democrat, who got 822 votes. Sandra Sanger Tuck, a political newcomer and also a Democrat, received 550 votes.

The Niagara County Board of Elections issued 100 absentee ballots in the Porter races. Those ballots won't be counted until next week.

In the race for town clerk, Deputy Town Clerk Gail A. Zachary defeated Michelle M. Minarcin, 1,111 to 524. Highway Superintendent Scott B. Hillman ran unopposed for re-election.
In Royalton, challenger Richard J. Lang defeated incumbent Supervisor Calvin W. Rhoney, who lost both the Democrat and Republican lines in the primaries.

Lang received 1,097 votes to Rhoney's 654.

In a five-way race for three seats on the Town Board, Jennifer H. Bieber, Bradley L. Rehwaldt and James G. Budde were the top vote-getters.

Bieber earned 1,357 votes, while Rehwaldt and Budde received 950 and 935, respectively.

Daniel R. Bragg finished with 833 votes, while Harry W. Nachtrieb earned 601 votes.

In the race for highway superintendent, Terry Nieman defeated Carson J. Kelly, 1,031 to 797. Jo Anne K. Swick ran unopposed for tax collector.
In Somerset, John E. Sweeney Jr., who had both major lines in the race for supervisor, trailed incumbent Richard J. Meyers by 15 votes, with 73 absentee ballots to be counted.

Meyers, who ran on the Independence and Conservative lines, received 464 votes at the polls Tuesday, while Sweeney, who held the Democratic, Republican and Working Families lines, got 449.

Sweeney, who said he was pleased with Tuesday's turnout, also said he is awaiting the final count to be issued when absentee ballots are counted next week.

"I'd just like to thank the voters of Somerset for coming out and voting," Sweeney said.

In the race for two Town Board seats, Daniel M. Engert and incumbent Randall J. Wayner were the top two vote-getters, with 567 and 488, respectively. Coming in a close third was Robert J. Degnan, who had 476 votes under Tuesday's unofficial results.

Incumbent Richard N. Ray finished with 240 votes.

John H. Keough ran unopposed for assessor, as did Ruth H. Wendler for tax collector.
In Wheatfield, Supervisor Timothy E. Demler cruised to victory in a bid for his seventh term in the town's top job.

Demler, who ran on the Republican, Independence, Conservative and Working Families lines, earned 65 percent of the vote in his defeat of Democrat challenger Robert J. Pino.

"We expected to beat him, but we didn't expect to beat him so handily," Demler said.

Demler received 2,652 votes to Pino's 1,416.

Republicans were victorious in each of the other town races.

Incumbents Gilbert G. Doucet and Larry L. Helwig were the top two vote-getters in a three-way race for two Town Board seats. Doucet received 2,660 votes, while Helwig earned 2,491.

Democratic challenger Samuel Conti Jr. earned 1,658 votes.

In the race for town clerk, Kathleen M. Harrington defeated Mary C. Joyce, 2,353 to 1,546.

Town Justice Robert B. Cliffe and Highway Superintendent Arthur F. Kroening both ran unopposed for re-election.

In Wilson, the incumbent supervisor, Joseph A. Jastrzmski, running on the Republican, Independent and Conservative lines, got 909 votes, soundly defeating Democrat challenger James C. Hufnagel, with 207 votes, while two Republican candidates for councilman, Thomas J. Thompson, with 832 votes, and incumbent James V. Muscoreil, 760 votes, defeated Democrat Christopher M. Srock.

Two propositions to lengthen terms of office for supervisor and tax collector were rejected, 473 to 325 and 440 to 349, respectively.

Re-elected incumbents were Highway Superintendent Daniel M. Kerwin; Town Justice Robert J. Botzer, Town Clerk Wanda E. Burrows, and Tax Collector Julia E. Godfrey.

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com
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