Niagara Gazette — And then there were two.
The field of four candidates for the Lewiston supervisor race was cut in half after Tuesday’s primary elections for both the Democrat and Republican lines of the general election Nov. 5.
Dennis Brochey, a first-term Lewiston Village trustee and the endorsed Democrat candidate, secured a landslide victory over his challenger, town finance director, and former councilman, Michael Johnson. An unofficial vote count Tuesday night of 527-250 secured Brochey’s victory.
“I think the people are looking forward to change in our government,” Brochey said. “Of course, this is only halftime. I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing, communicating, going door-to-door and listening to what everyone has to say. I’m not making any promises ... except I am promising to look into everything the voters ask me about.”
As the choice Democrat, he’ll battle Republican town Councilman Ernie Palmer for the chief executive position, one secured by defeating current Supervisor Steve Reiter by an unofficial count of 434-347.
Palmer was the chosen candidate by both the Lewiston Republican Party and Niagara County’s Republicans, which endorsed him as the strongest candidate in the field to lead the town forward.
But it wasn’t an easy victory, Palmer said.
“When you’re running against an incumbent, it’s hard to guess,” Palmer said. “Steve’s very popular, he has a lot of friends. I had no read on this whatsoever. I didn’t know who was going to win at all, even today.”
Reiter’s bid for reelection was dashed by the loss. The two-term supervisor – and highway superintendent before that – will continue serving until the end of the year, when he’ll step aside for whoever wins the November poll.
Before his campaign kicked into gear, Reiter was reportedly questioned by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the state Attorney General’s Office this past June about, among other items, the a 2011 state comptroller’s audit questioning the town’s handling of municipal fuel supplies and “questionable” drainage repairs performed by the highway department between Jan. 1, 2009 and March 18, 2011.
Then, in July, as he was set to announce his intentions for a third two-year term, Reiter underwent quadruple bypass heart surgery, while his planned multimillion-dollar Lewiston Civic Center was handily defeated by voters during a special election.
Reiter said this may have played a factor in Tuesday’s results.
“The (Lewiston Civic Center) and the things I’ve been doing didn’t sit well,” Reiter said in defeat. He added many of his conversations with residents while campaigning weren’t negative in nature, crediting his loss to Palmer running a “stronger, better campaign.”
For his part, Johnson said he tried to convince voters his experience in town government was an asset. A former councilman, Johnson spent 14 years on the town board before taking a job as its finance director.
Though he isn’t happy with the defeat, he said Tuesday’s vote is acceptable because it shows the direction voters would like to take moving forward.
“I’m not a negative campaigner, I never have been,” Johnson said. “I respect the opinions of the Lewiston voters, I’m OK with it, because they think this is the direction we need to go. And that’s their decision and that’s what’s great about America.”Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.