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Ballot counting going 'smoothly' Kozub wins race in First District

It's official. The initial batch of paper ballots was counted Tuesday, a week after the primary election, and Daniel M. Kozub has won the four-way race for the Democratic nomination for the Erie County Legislature in the First District, which includes Lackawanna and parts of Buffalo and Hamburg.

The results were the first to come out of the count of absentee ballots, write-in votes and roughly 10,000 paper ballots from 13 towns. Elections Commissioner Ralph M. Mohr expects it will take 10 days to two weeks to finish them all.

Kozub, a driver for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and a two-term Lackawanna Council member, added 515 paper ballot votes from Hamburg to the 1,509 he received in the two cities for a total of 2,024, outdistancing Thomas J. Jackson, Dennis Bigaj and Gregory B. Olma for the nomination.

The victory gives him a major boost in his bid to succeed 22-year incumbent Democrat Edward J. Kuwik, who decided not to run again.

Jackson, a longtime employee of the West Seneca School District, was runner-up, with 349 votes from Hamburg for a total of 1,498. Bigaj, a former businessman who now works for the West Seneca Schools, had 416 votes from Hamburg and a total of 854. Olma, a former four-term legislator, received 151 Hamburg votes for a total of 494.

Mohr said the first day of counting paper ballots "proceeded rather smoothly." He noted that there was enough time left over to begin counting in the closely contested 12th District primary races -- where one vote separates the Republican contenders and the Democrats are three votes apart -- but one of the candidates asked officials not to proceed until today, so the candidate can attend the session.

Mohr noted that the First District candidates or their representatives were present for Tuesday's count, sitting across the table from election workers.

Thursday will see a count of the paper rolls from voting machines in Buffalo to decide the Conservative and Independent primary races for mayor, Mohr said. A count of the Ninth Legislature District, where attorney Cynthia E. Locklear led incumbent Democratic Legislator Timothy M. Wroblewski in early tabulations, probably will be Friday.

"We certainly feel we were justified in having everything brought back to the Board of Elections and having the count there," Mohr said. "For instance, there were natural discrepancies in the total number of ballots. They'd write 70 and there would be 73 ballots and 73 party cards."

There are 135 precincts to count.

e-mail: danderson@buffnews.com

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