The race for Amherst town supervisor took a surprising turn Tuesday when a political unknown apparently won the Republican primary and the right to be incumbent Susan Grelick's main competition in November.
Satish Mohan, a professor at the University at Buffalo, was leading endorsed Republican candidate Dirk Rabenold, 2,229-1,938, with 55 of 56 districts reporting in Amherst.
And there was more bad news for Rabenold, president of the Sweet Home School Board: Grelick seemed to be on her way to a victory over him in the Conservative primary, with a 160-146 lead.
Grelick, who already has the Democratic line, is still assured of facing Rabenold, who has the Independence line, in November.
But her focus will have to shift to Mohan, whose only political experience is as a member of the town's Traffic Safety Board. He said the race against the longtime incumbent Grelick will be a "daunting task." Grelick could not be reached to comment.
In the Town Board primaries, incumbent Daniel J. Ward, with 2,417 votes, was one of three candidates to secure a Democratic line. The others were Jerome D. Schad with 2,145 and Deborah Bruch Bucki with 2,601. Gerald I. Brownrout tallied 1,404 votes.
The big news in other suburban primaries Tuesday was the lack of known results.
While voting machines were used in some towns and officials were able to begin counting ballots shortly after polls closed at 9 p.m., the story in Holland, Orchard Park and Lancaster was being written on paper ballots that will not be counted until at least next week.
The use of paper ballots stems from a dispute involving the Board of Elections over Erie County's financial problems.
Final results were not available by late last night for many of the races. The following results are unofficial.
Town Board candidates James M. Lorenzi and Robert J. Kelchlin squared off for the right to run on the Independence line. With eight of nine districts reporting, Kelchlin led 25-22. The pair and William R. Weber sought two spots on the Conservative line. Weber had 67 votes, while Kelchlin had 39 and Lorenzi 38.
In a Republican primary for town clerk, incumbent Dorothy Bycina was on
her way to defeating Jennifer Lynch, 595-183.
In the race for town justice, Daniel R. Pautler and Michael R. Zosh ran against each other for the Republican, Democratic, Independence and Conservative lines. Pautler was in front in all four, although his margin was five votes on the Democratic line and only one on the Independence line.
In the Republican primary for highway superintendent, Mark A. Pruitt was being defeated by incumbent Harry F. Milligan, 470-276.
Incumbent Peter F. Gugino was challenged on four lines -- Republican, Democratic, Independence and Conservative -- by Kirk Ritz in a primary for town justice. With one of two districts reporting, Gugino was in front on all four lines.
In the supervisor race, Springville Mayor Gary A. Eppolito fended off a challenge from Democratic nominee and Councilman John E. Allan to take the Republican line, 423-270. In the contest for town justice, Jeffrey D. Forester took the Republican line, Leslie Gibbin the Democratic, Kim Gentner the Conservative, Independence and -- with a single vote -- the Working Families lines.
> Grand Island
Three candidates were seeking some or all of the five lines up for grabs. Mark J. Frentzel and Michael Anthony Rossi were seeking the Republican, Democratic, Independence, Conservative and Working Families lines. Also seeking the Democratic line was Michael T. Coutou.
With six of eight districts reporting, Frentzel was leading Rossi on the Republican line, 490-376; Rossi was up 312-217 on the Democratic line, with Coutou far behind with 110 votes; and Frentzel had narrow leads on the remaining lines, 22-20 on the Independence line, 48-46 on the Conservative line and 2-0 on the Working Families line.
Incumbent William J. Franczak faced a challenge from Cheryl A. Post for the right to run on the Conservative line for town justice in November.
Winning the right to run for the First Ward of the City Council on the Democratic line was William D. Taggart Sr. with 431 votes. Andrea Haxton finished with 323 votes, and Robert G. Daley received 130.
Four people want the two Independence slots available for Town Board candidates. They are: incumbents Ronald A. Ruffino Sr. and Mark A. Montour, and Daniel R. Centinello and Mary F. Refermat.
James S. Bernhardt and Earl A. Gingerich Jr. each received 16 votes in their race for the Independence line for town supervisor. It was not known if absentee ballots were still to be counted.
In the Town Board primary, incumbents Fred G. Specht with 372 votes and George G. Gertz with 340 won the Republican line by defeating Leonard E. Janiga with 43 votes and Victor F. Ball with 134. Janiga received 18 votes and Ball 17 to win the Independence line against Suzanne K. Bernhardt, who got 16 and Keith Zimmerman with 13.
Incumbent Gerald F. Summe faced a challenge for the Conservative line for town supervisor from David L. Cummings. With two of three districts reporting, Summe held a 23-21 lead.
In the Republican primary for town justice, Dennis Freeman had 255 votes to Richard Baran's 96.
> North Collins
In a battle for two Republican slots in the Town Board primary, incumbent Keith V. Dillingham and Karen A. Schmitz both received 88 votes to win the line. Joan M. Niedermeier received 79 votes.
Town justice candidates Ward A. Weiser, the incumbent, and James A. Musacchio both sought the Republican, Democratic and Conservative lines. Weiser took all three lines.
The race for the Republican line for supervisor in Sardinia was too close to call, pending affidavit votes and absentee ballots. Endorsed candidate Matthew L. Mumbach had 236 votes, while Kathleen M. Balus had 222 and Carla Fuller 95. Endorsed candidates Douglas "Buster" Morrell and Heather Phelps took the Republican lines for town board with 289 and 284 votes, respectively, while Robert Kaiser had 234 and Shawn Haley 219. Mumbach, Morrell and Phelps took the Independence lines, while Balus, Haley and Kaiser won the Conservative lines via write-ins.
> City of Tonawanda
Six people sought four lines in the mayoral primary. Thomas A. Smyers, Ronald J. Pilozzi and Thomas J. Christy sought the Republican line; Gayle L. Syposs and Jay R. Ralph faced off for the Democratic line; Syposs, Pilozzi and Ralph fought for the Independence line; and Kenneth Horn challenged Syposs for the Conservative line.
With seven of nine districts reporting, Pilozzi was leading on the Republican line with 290 votes, while Smyers had 211 and Christy 80.
The Democratic line was too close to call; Ralph had 314 votes to 313 for Syposs.
Pilozzi was leading Syposs 26-22 on the Independence line -- Smyers garnered 4 votes there -- while Syposs led Horn on the Conservative line, 20-17.
Two political newcomers, Edward Gebera and Rick D. Davis Jr., faced off for the Conservative endorsement in the 4th Ward primary for the Common Council. Davis won 17-11.