The Niagara Falls City Council election has a clear frontrunner, but a pair of candidates remain separated by a razor-thin margin in competition for the second open seat.
According to unofficial results, the Niagara Falls City Council could have its first Republican majority in recent memory, but at least 300 absentee ballots remain to be counted.
The preliminary count listed Republican incumbent Councilman Kenny Tompkins with 4,991 votes. Challengers John Spanbauer, a Republican, and Alicia Kenyon, a Democrat, were separated by 29 votes as of Tuesday night. Kenyon had 4,337 votes. Spanbauer received 4,366 votes.
"It’s so close. There’s over 300 absentee," she said. "With only a difference of 20 votes, it’s just too soon to tell."
Spanbauer, reached by phone late Tuesday night, said he had hoped the election would have been resolved already.
"It's nice to be up, but the absentee (ballots) could change all that," Spanbauer said. "But I'll be prepared for the best (news) and prepared for the worst."
The first-time candidate said he's been told it could take until next week for a final vote tally.
"I have no feeling at all (about waiting)," he said. "I'm a rookie (politician) whose learning as I go."
Most of the city GOP celebrated at the Giacomo building in the Cataract City's downtown but Tompkins got the election results in Sammy's Pizzeria on Hyde Park Boulevard. Tompkins said the results "reinforce" his belief that people agree with his agenda and mission. Even so, he did not expect his win to come easily, he said.
Voters who turned out for Tompkins' first campaign invested in his potential but constituents in the second election were casting judgement on his record.
"It’s always nerve-racking. I take nothing for granted," he said.
Tompkins said he chose the pizzeria to celebrate with his friends and family in a gathering that was not strictly partisan.
"Team Tompkins is a group that is not Republican or Democrat. It is a team. It is everybody," he said.
Democratic challenger Donta Myles captured 17.8 percent of the vote, with 3,071 tallies.
"I feel that the people have spoken," Myles said. "I did everything I could to get my message out. Hopefully, my campaign had sparked the community to get engaged, to come to council meetings."
Asked if he might run again in two years, Myles wasn't sure.
"I would have to sit on that," Myles said.