LOCKPORT — Democratic voters in the Falls appear to have ripped away their backing of incumbent county Legislator Owen Steed, delivering a general election endorsement to political newcomer Jeffrey Elder.
In balloting Tuesday, Democrats in the Legislature’s 4th District turned away Steed, a 10-year incumbent, handing Elder an apparent 11-vote victory. The unofficial tally, subject to a board of elections count of absentee ballots, showed Elder with 258 votes (51.09%) to Steed’s 247 votes (48.91%).
Voter turnout for the primary was exceptionally low. Countywide, just 7.5% of registered voters in the Democratic, Republican, Conservative and Working Families parties went to the polls.
If the margin holds, it will be the first electoral win for Elder who ran as a mayoral candidate on his own independent party line in 2019. Elder has also secured the Working Families line in the general election.
The district, heavily Democratic by voter registration, has no Republican party candidate on the general election ballot. Steed will still be on the ballot in November having garnered the uncontested endorsement of the Niagara County Conservative party.
The veteran legislator had never faced a primary challenge before. Because the county Conservative Party is closely aligned with the Niagara County GOP, Steed would be expected to pick up Republican votes in the fall.
The longtime legislator told the Gazette he received the Conservative Party backing after the Working Families Party chose to endorse Elder. That decision, Steed said, was motivated by his endorsement, in 2020, of Niagara County Sheriff Michael Filicetti, a Republican.
In the legislature’s 6th District Republican Primary, another political newcomer, Timothy Huether Sr., led early but faded at the end in a battle with Falls City Council Member Chris Voccio. The unofficial tally, subject to a board of elections count of absentee ballots, showed Voccio with 92 votes (55.76%) to 73 votes for Huether (44.24%).
Voccio will face fellow City Council Member William Kennedy, the endorsed Democrat, in the November general election to fill the seat being vacated by longtime Falls Democratic Legislator Dennis Virtuoso.
In Lewiston, J. Steve Boddecker (350 votes) and Robin “Rob” Morreale (304) secured the GOP lines for town council over Ed Lilly (235).
The race to succeed Falls Chief City Court Judge Mark Violante could be over. Veteran defense attorney Janelle Faso trounced fellow defense attorney Dominic Saraceno and Falls City Corporation Counsel Christopher Mazur to win the Democratic, Republican and Conservative party primaries. Faso and Mazur finished primary night tied in the Working Families race, with 9 votes each.
Absentee ballots, if any, could decide that race.
In the Democratic contest, Faso tallied 47.91% of the vote to 26.42% for Mazur and 25.68% for Saraceno. Mazur had been the endorsed Democratic candidate.
On the Republican side, Faso had 42.35% of the ballots to 33.11% for Saraceno and 24.41% for Mazur. Saraceno was the endorsed GOP candidate. Faso received 54.41% of the Conservative party votes, while Saraceno garnered 27.94% and Mazur 17.65%. Saraceno had been endorsed by the Conservative party.
And two familiar names in Niagara County legal circles will be squaring off in the general election for a seat on the county court bench being vacated by Judge Matthew J. Murphy III.
Lockport attorneys John Ottaviano and Michael Benedict both sought the Democrat, Republican, Conservative and Working Families party lines for the general election. They each captured two of them.
Benedict, the endorsed Democrat, won the Democrat and Working Families party lines, while Ottaviano, the endorsed Republican held on to the GOP line and won the Conservative backing too.