Niagara Gazette — The Niagara County Republican Committee finally has its man for Lewiston supervisor.
After weeks of uncertainty, the political party formally endorsed Ernie Palmer as its choice to run the northwestern Niagara County town for the next two years.
In a press release distributed this past week by county Chairman Scott Kiedrowski, the organization cited current Supervisor Steve Reiter’s issues involving the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a major reason for its departure from the status quo.
“The Niagara County Republican Committee did not make a formal endorsement in the Lewiston Supervisor’s race between Steve Reiter and Ernie Palmer several months ago as we were simply waiting to see if any clarity would emerge,” the release said. “But the fact is Steve Reiter continues to have a legal cloud hanging over his head, based on his own admissions of using town gas pumps for personal use and that legal investigation apparently will not be cleared up any time soon. The leadership of our party believes we need to move in a different direction.”
Claiming Palmer wouldn’t allow the town to face any new charges due to his own extensive background in law enforcement, the committee is hoping Palmer, who they say is a man of “tremendous integrity,” would end all speculation about the possible trouble facing the town’s government.
“With Ernie’s distinguished law enforcement background, voters can be assured that the questionable activity that has been alleged in town hall will come to an end,” the committee said. “Not only is he a man of tremendous integrity, but he has a strong record as a member of the Lewiston Town Board.”
Palmer said he was notified of the support by the party’s leadership a few weeks ago. In fact, Palmer said, he never would have joined the supervisor’s race without the group’s support.
Originally tabbed to run if Reiter was unable to file petitions after quadruple bypass surgery last month, Palmer decided to remain in the race and challenge the incumbent to a September primary.
He said he’s still friends with Reiter despite the political challenge, which has made working together on the town board a bit uneasy.
“Steve and I worked well together for several years,” Palmer said. “We’re still friends. It’s been a little uncomfortable for both us, but when I got into this, we didn’t know if he was in (the race) or not. We were up against a deadline and needed to make a decision whether we were in or out. And it became clear I had a decent shot to win this thing.
“It doesn’t mean I think Steve did a poor job by any means. But he has his style and I have my style and they’re not the same.”
Reiter took the endorsement news in stride. He said the decision was for the committee to make when asked for comment.Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.