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Competition lacking as petitions emerge for elections in Niagara

LOCKPORT – When it comes to potentially exciting political competition, Niagara County isn’t the place to look in 2016.

The list of nominating petitions released last week by the Board of Elections shows few contested races.

The main event, almost by default, is a contest in the 145th Assembly District between the incumbent, John D. Ceretto of Lewiston, and his challenger, former Niagara Falls City Judge Angelo J. Morinello.

Ceretto, 64, switched parties from Republican to Democratic last year, provoking the ire of his former friends in the GOP, who recruited Morinello, a 70-year-old retired judge, to run against him.

The district includes Niagara Falls and the towns of Niagara, Lewiston, Cambria and Wheatfield, as well as the Erie County town of Grand Island.

Elsewhere, State Sen. Robert G. Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, has no opponent for re-election in his district, which covers the entire county, all of Orleans County and part of Monroe County.

Michael J. Norris of Lockport, chosen by Republican leaders to succeed retiring Assemblywoman Jane L. Corwin, R-Clarence, has no foe in the 144th Assembly District, which also includes parts of Erie and Orleans counties.

For countywide offices, the two major parties, and some of the minor ones, have cross-endorsed the same candidates. Sheriff James R. Voutour, a Town of Lockport Democrat, will be unopposed in re-election to his third four-year term, and Caroline A. Wojtaszek, a North Tonawanda Democrat, is cross-endorsed for district attorney. A four-year term will be filled in an election called after the March 21 resignation of District Attorney Michael J. Violante.

But there will be some competition for local offices.

In North Tonawanda, appointed Republican incumbent Katherine D. Alexander will be challenged by Democrat Jeremy M. Schnurr for city attorney. Alexander’s predecessor, Republican Shawn P. Nickerson, is running unopposed for city judge, a seat to which he was appointed in December.

Niagara Falls voters will fill a four-year term for District 1 coroner. Republican James E. Carroll, the appointed incumbent, is being challenged by Democrat Dwon M. Daniels Sr.

In Wheatfield, longtime Town Justice John J. Mattio is being challenged by attorney Joshua I. Ramos in multiple party primaries. Mattio and Ramos are both Republicans.

In Lewiston, interim Highway Superintendent David J. Trane, a Democrat, is running unopposed for a three-year unexpired term. Trane, who lost last year’s election to Republican Douglas A. Janese by seven votes, ended up with the job after Janese died of cancer Feb. 16.

Cambria voters will have three choices for an open town justice seat: Amel S. Jowdy III, son of a current town justice and grandson of a former justice, is running against Harmony K. Retzlaff Hurtgam and Cheryl L. Shoop.

Jowdy and Hurtgam are Republicans, while Shoop is registered with the Independence Party.

Hartland Republicans will decide a one-year unexpired Town Board term in a primary between David D. Huntington and Leif Woodman.

Town of Lockport Conservatives will have a primary for a one-year Town Board seat between appointed Republican incumbent Darlene S. DiCarlo and David J. Mongielo, a registered Conservative who has sought town and county offices several times in the past.

Porter Town Justice Wayne D. Pollow and Royalton Town Justice Laura A. Wagner, both Republicans, are running unopposed. Royalton Tax Collector Debra A. Milliman, a Republican, is also unopposed.


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