Democrats in Cheektowaga, Lancaster and Depew overwhelmingly backed political newcomer Monica P. Wallace over Kristy L. Mazurek in the primary race for the seat in the 143rd Assembly District.
Wallace, a Lancaster lawyer and University at Buffalo Law School professor, had the backing of Democratic Party leaders and apparently made a persuasive appeal to voters about bringing ethics and integrity back to the scandal-plagued office.
“I think the results demonstrate that the voters in the 143rd District have voted to restore integrity and principles to this seat,” said Wallace, 48.
She defeated Mazurek, a former television reporter with deep civic ties in Lancaster. Mazurek, 45, campaigned on similar ethics reform themes but has been criticized for her past work for G. Steven Pigeon, a political operative indicted on bribery, extortion and other charges.
Wallace won with 75 percent of the vote. She will face Republican Russell W. Sugg, a Lancaster village trustee, in the general election and said she remains confident of success again Nov. 8. “I’ve worked really hard to get my name out there and let the voters know who I am,” Wallace said.
If elected as assemblywoman, Wallace said she would focus on closing campaign finance loopholes to get “dark money” out of politics and make greater support for public education a priority.
The 143rd District seat attracted considerable attention in early 2014 when Democratic Assemblyman Dennis H. Gabryszak, of Cheektowaga, resigned after seven women who are former staffers accused him of sexual harassment.
His successor, Conservative-Republican Angela M. Wozniak, of Cheektowaga, rode into office on a wave of reform but declined to seek re-election after the revelation of an extramarital affair with a staff member.
Other primary races Tuesday included:
• Cheektowaga Town Board – In a tight race that was still too close to call, former Cheektowaga Town Clerk Alice Magierski appeared to hold a very slim lead over Dennis A. Smith Jr. in her Democratic primary bid for the Cheektowaga Town Board seat, which was left vacant after former Councilwoman Diane M. Benczkowski was elected supervisor last year.
Smith, a Buffalo Sewer Authority investigator who had been briefly considered for appointment to the vacant council seat early this year, trailed Magierski by a dozen votes, with absentee ballots yet to be counted.
• 146th Assembly District – Republican Assemblyman Raymond W. Walter defeated challenger Rachel L. Obenauer for the Independence Party line with about 60 percent of the vote. He also defeated Douglas B. Lippert for the Conservative line with nearly 80 percent of the vote.
Steven G. Meyer won the Working Families Party line over William P. Kracker with more than 80 percent of the vote.
• 140th Assembly District – Anthony K. Baney won the Green Party Line over Danielle M. Rotolo with more than 80 percent of the vote.