Results from the 2023 elections seem to prove that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Voter turnout was low. The Erie County turnout number was about 33 percent, while in the Buffalo it was approximately 19 percent, continuing a negative trend that affects countywide elections.
Here is a link to the Erie County Board of Elections website (Results Cast (resultscaster.com) that provides the results of all 149 elections in the county this year. The link to the Niagara County results can be found here: Summary Results – Election Night Reporting (votereporting.com).
Here are the key takeaways from yesterday:
- County Executive Mark Poloncarz was re-elected to a fourth term in a landslide, defeating Republican Chrissy Casilio by a margin of 58 to 40 percent; Libertarian candidate Duane Whitmer received one percent. Poloncarz’s winning vote total stood at 115,244 to 79,862. All of the 21 election districts that were unreported as of seven AM on November 8 were from Buffalo and Lackawanna, which likely means that Poloncarz’s margin of victory will increase when all the votes are counted. The overall results in the county were a major victory for Chairman Jeremy Zellner and the Democratic County Committee.
- The New York Times described the Erie County Executive race as a bellwether for next year’s congressional races in the state.
- Casilio’s negative focus on the asylum seekers issue did her no good. She was a poorly prepared candidate, failing to demonstrate any knowledge of the work of county government. The Republican and Conservative parties appeared to make no effort to improve that situation. What did Michael Kracker and Ralph Lorigo really know about Chrissy Casilio and when did they know it?
- Chris Grant repeated his featured negative style of campaigning in his work for Casilio. Oh well, there is always the Santos re-election campaign in 2024.
- The Erie County Legislature remains in Democratic control 7 seats to 4. The three seats considered to be most in contention – John Bargnesi (D, District 3); Jeanne Vinal (D, District 5); and Tim Meyers (D, District 7) – all turned out to be easy wins for the incumbent Democrats.
- There will be two newcomers to the Buffalo Common Council due to retirements, but all seven of the other members were returned to office along with Comptroller Barbara Miller-Williams. Among the eleven city elective offices on the ballot in Buffalo, just four of the Council Districts had contested elections and that but for one exception was with minor party challengers. The new Council members will be Leah Halton-Pope in the Ellicott District and Zeneta Everhart in the Masten District. They will be the first female members of the Council in ten years. The lack of any serious contests resulted in the anemic voter turnout in the city.
- In January the Council will elect a new president for the first time in ten years. Deidre Williams posted an informative summary of the candidates for that position in this past Saturday’s Buffalo News: Mitch Nowakowski, David Rivera, Chris Scanlon, and Rasheed Wyatt (Four contenders want to be next Buffalo Common Council president. They could become Buffalo’s mayor (buffalonews.com).
- If rumors become fact and Mayor Byron Brown is selected as the next President of Buffalo State University the president of the Council will automatically become mayor and serve through the end of 2024. Timing of a Brown departure would be important. If he leaves before the end of 2023 Darius Pridgen will succeed him. If a change occurs in 2024 the new Council president will move up to become mayor and would likely be a candidate for election to the office in November 2024.
- Cheektowaga results were affected by a variety of issues including the housing of asylum seekers and a whole lot of personal in-fighting about and among town Board members. Democratic Supervisor candidate Brian Nowak finished the election with a winning margin of 36 votes. Absentee and military votes might still affect the result. Republicans added one seat on the Town Council; there is currently just one Republican on the Board.
- In other parts of Erie County, local races pretty much maintained the status quote. Incumbent Supervisors were re-elected in the Town of Tonawanda (Joe Emminger) and West Seneca (Gary Dickson).
- Three Erie County Family Court Judge candidates and a candidate for the Buffalo City Court were all elected without opposition. This is not an unusual result for judicial races these days.
- Democratic incumbent Robert Restaino won the race for Mayor of Niagara Falls by a margin of 2 percent. His Republican opponent, Carlton Cain, dealt with negative issues concerning his record in the City’s Police Department.
- Republican Niagara County Legislator William Collins narrowly lost his bid for re-election Tuesday following the public viewing of some surveillance video which showed him deflating the tire of a vehicle.
So take a deep breath and enjoy the upcoming holidays. The 2024 presidential, congressional, and state legislative elections are just around the corner. Locally there are likely to be some interesting developments in a congressional race, the election of the Erie County District Attorney, and perhaps mayor of Buffalo and two or three state legislative districts in Western New York.
The presidential primaries in New York State will be held on April 2, 2024. The first day for signing designating petitions for convention delegate candidates is on December 12th, five weeks from now. Petitions will be going out for congressional, state, and local 2024 elections in just over 100 days. Rest up.
Ken Kruly writes about politics and other stuff at politicsandstuff.com