Niagara Gazette

Local News

September 15, 2010

Accardo wins 138th, DelMonte not ready to concede

NIAGARA FALLS — It was all cheers inside the Como Restaurant Tuesday evening as former Niagara Falls City Councilman John Accardo celebrated an apparent upset victory in the Democratic primary in the state Assembly’s 138th District.

“We did it! Thank you!” shouted Accardo as his supporters cheered him on following the release of unofficial election results that showed him edging five-term incumbent state lawmaker Francine DelMonte by 353 votes to secure the right to represent the Democratic Party on the ballot in the November general election. Unofficial vote tallies were 3,615-3,262 in Accardo’s favor.

Accardo hugged sons Frank and Nicholas as well as his father, long-time Niagara Falls real estate agent Frank Accardo, before thanking his campaign helpers for a job well done.

“It was a Herculian effort by a very small group of people but we beat them all,” said Accardo, whose last election resulted in a loss to Irene Elia in the 1999 mayoral election. “I want to thank everybody.

“This is a change for Niagara Falls and I’m so proud of everyone.”

DelMonte was not ready to admit defeat on Tuesday, citing possible “improprieties” at area polling places, including some reported snafus involving the new electronic voting machines. With around 600 absentee ballots outstanding, DelMonte did not concede the race as of press time Tuesday.

“We are just going to wait and see what happens,” DelMonte said. “There has been a lot of problems with the machines and we will try and have them impounded and see what the absentee ballots reveal.”

DelMonte would not offer any other comment regarding the unofficial vote deficit she faced at press time.

Members of the DelMonte camp told the Gazette there have been accusations of polling officials instructing some voters who to vote for, which would have to be investigated.

DelMonte would not confirm if she intend to challenge the election.

“It’s just wait and see,” she said. “I think I’ll leave it at that.”

The 138th District includes the City of Niagara Falls and the towns of Lewiston, Porter, Wheatfield, Niagara, Wilson, Cambria, Newfane and Hartland. Accardo said he had a feeling early on when he started going door-to-door during the campaign that Democrats in the district were ready to embrace an alternative to DelMonte who entered the race with he endorsement of both the city and county Democratic committees. Accardo said he felt his name recognition within Niagara Falls helped him a bit, but said he believed his message about wanting to bring a new voice and a real change to the 138th District resonated with disgruntled voters. He credited his small group of supporters for waging a great, grassroots campaign.

“We climbed Mount Everest today,” Accardo said.

He vowed to continue to press his message in the weeks ahead to convince voters districtwide that he is the right choice for the next Assembly representative. He is set to square off against endorsed Republican and county lawmaker John Ceretto this fall.

“I’ve known John (Ceretto) a long time,” Accardo said. “He’s a friend of mine. I know he is going to work hard and I know I’m going to have to work even harder.”

As for DelMonte’s plan to contest the race, Accardo said he would expect her to do so, but was not concerned that it would result in a different outcome than what the unofficial election results showed Tuesday evening.

“She knows what the numbers showed three weeks ago,” he said. “I’m just so thankful that they turned out in my favor. I’m just really ecstatic.”

Accardo is president of sales and marketing for the Accardo Agency Inc. on Pine Avenue. He spent eight years on the Niagara Falls City Council. In 1999, he defeated incumbent Falls Mayor James Galie in a Democratic primary only to lose to Elia in the general election.

A graduate of Bishop Duffy High School and Columbia Union College, Accardo currently serves on the board of associates at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital and previously served on boards for the Niagara County Community Action Program, the Niagara Falls Boys and Girls Club and the Niagara Falls Board of Assessment and Review.

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