Republicans maintained their stranglehold over the majority in the Niagara County Legislature on Tuesday, although Democrats appear to have picked up one seat during as unofficial results showed Democratic challenger Anita Mullane holding an edge over Republican and current legislature Chairman Keith McNall.
Unofficial election results from the Niagara County Board of Elections showed Mullane with an 83-vote lead over McNall, the Republican who has held the legislature's 13th District seat in Lockport since 2006. Unofficial results showed Mullane receiving 51.3 percent of the 3,233 votes cast on Tuesday.
"I thank the voters immensely in my district," Mullane said in a telephone call from the City of Lockport VFW where she and other Democratic candidates heard elections results reported.
Mullane said she believes her campaign message of refocusing government resources to assist small businesses, rather than corporations, resonated with constituents.
"We need to start looking out for people invested in our community," she said.
McNall could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.
In what is among the county's closest races, a competition in the sixth district between the legislature's most veteran lawmaker, 15-term incumbent Democratic Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso of Niagara Falls was ahead of Republican challenger David Zajac by 27 votes, according to unofficial results.
As of Wednesday night, Virtuoso had 50.5 percent of the 2,340 votes cast. Zajac held 49.27 percent of the votes. About 110 absentee ballots remain to be counted.
Virtuoso criticized the county Department of Social Service's hiring of Zajac to transport children after a prior drunken driving related conviction. Zajac called it an abuse of his position to try to dig up "dirt" on him related to his government job.
Virtuoso dismissed Zajac's claim. Separately, Virtuoso said Zajac took false shots at him, claiming he lived in the City of Las Vegas, where he travels during the year to visit his ill mother.
"I had a funny feeling it was going to be close," Virtuoso said. "The way the campaign was ran was a dirty, filthy campaign."
Virtuoso said he was confident he would retain the lead after absentee ballots were counted. Zajac could not be reached for comment.
According to preliminary counts, results in the remaining district are as follows:
First District: Republican Irene Meyers, of the Hamlet of Ransomville, who replaced the late Republican Clyde Burmaster on the ballot, bested Democrat Wendy Guild Swearingen, of the Village of Youngstown. Meyers received 1,922 votes and Swearingen received 1,487.
Second District: Incumbent Republican Rebecca Wydysh, of the Town of Lewiston, won out with 1,574 votes in her competition with Democratic challenger Stephanie Kindzia, of the Town of Lewiston, who received 1,012.
Third District: Incumbent Democrat Mark Grozio, of the City of Niagara Falls, Republican challenger Robert Bilson, of the City of Niagara Falls. Grozio received 1,819 votes to Bilson's 1,706.
Fourth District: Incumbent Democrat Owen Steed won in an uncontested race in which 1,298 votes were cast in his name.
Fifth District: Democratic challenger Christopher Robins, of the City of Niagara Falls, had a nearly 20 percent victory margin in his race against Republican challenger John Accardo, of the City of Niagara Falls. Robins received 1,706 votes. Accardo had 1,108 votes. Robins will replace outgoing Legislator Jason Zona next year.
Seventh District: Incumbent Republican Jesse Gooch, of the City of North Tonawanda, beat out Democratic challenger Erik Herbert, of the City of North Tonawanda. Gooch received 1,622 votes. Herbert received 1,402 votes.
Eighth District: Incumbent Republican Richard Andres, of the City of North Tonawanda, bested Democratic challenger Mark Houghton, of the City of North Tonawanda, by nearly a two to one margin. Andres received 1,434 votes. Houghton received 732.
Ninth District: Incumbent Republican Majority Leader Randy Bradt, of the City of North Tonawanda, was victorious over Democratic challenger Joseph Kissel, of the City of North Tonawanda. Bradt received 2,166 votes. Kissel received 1,236.
Tenth District: Incumbent Republican David Godfrey, of the Hamlet of Burt, had a sizable margin of victory over Democratic challenger Trevor Ganshaw, of City of Lockport. Godfrey received 2,144 votes. Ganshaw received 1,088.
Eleventh District: In an uncontested race, incumbent Republican Anthony Nemi had 1,988 votes cast in his name.
Twelfth District: Incumbent Republican William Collins, Sr., of the City of Lockport, had among the largest victory margins of the night over Conservative and Libertarian challenger David Mongielo, of the City of Lockport. Collins received 1,315 votes. Mongielo received 608.
Fourteenth District: Incumbent Republican John Syracuse, of the Village of Newfane, received 2,057 votes in an uncontested race.
Fifteenth District: Incumbent Republican Michael Hill, of the Village of Middleport, received 1,919 in an uncontested race.