Endorsed Democrats prevail on Primary Day

Jun 26, 2019

For Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner, Election Day went well, as endorsed candidates won and stayed on track for the County Legislature and Common Council. That is a good sign for the party, as it pushes to re-elect County Executive Mark Poloncarz and hold control of the Legislature.

Primary Day had a few surprises. Chautauqua County Democratic Board of Elections Commissioner explained it this way in a statement:

"Locally, a technical problem caused the Board of Elections to revert to its backup Election Night Reporting Program. The successful switch over went as planned for problems."

Jeremy Zellner (3rd from right) posted this photo on Twitter with the headline "Clean Sweep."
Credit Twitter

Speaking with WBFO, Zellner explained it this way:

"We've gotta upload the chips and we had to restart our system. So it was just a technical snafu that caused us to hold off on getting everything in in a faster way, which I was hoping for. We're going through so many changes with all these new election laws that we're gonna have electronic poll books in the fall. It's gonna change the way we do all of this."

Asked about handling an Election Day with many more voters, Zellner said Erie Couny probably will not have the same system much longer.

In addition to the computers crashing, there also was light turnout on this first June Primary Day since New York changed the law, especially with no countywide race to bring out Democrats. Although, county executive candidate Lynne Dixon called her Independence Party "decisive" primary win "a resounding defeat" for the incumbent.

You can find all Erie County results here.

You can find local city, town and village results here.

You can find Niagara County results here.

You can find Chautauqua County results here.

Tuesday's races were mostly fought in districts like Buffalo's Fillmore and Lovejoy districts in the Common Council and two Legislature seats vacated for other positions.

Howard Johnson was appointed to replace Barbara Miller-Williams, who left to be city comptroller. Peter Savage left to become a judge, but he has not been replaced. Tonawanda Town Council member Lisa Chimera won the Democratic primary and is expected to be appointed to the seat very soon.

Tonawanda Town Councilmember Lisa Chimera won the Democratic primary for the seat vacated by Erie County Legislator Peter Savage.
Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Speaking at Eckl's @ Larkin where Democrats gathered after the polls closed, Chimera said she spent a lot of time campaigning in the Buffalo part of the district.

"I have spent a great deal of time going to different community meetings, meeting with community leaders and I have spent a lot of time getting to know them and I look forward to working with them," she said.

Party voters also gave a new term to Legislature Chair April Baskin.

On the Common Council, Bryan Bollman will be the new Lovejoy Councilmember, replacing the retiring Richard Fontana, and Mitch Nowakowski will be the new Fillmore member, replacing the retiring David Franczyk. Bollman said door-to-door campaigning worked for him.

Mitch Nowakowski will be the new Fillmore Common Councilmember, replacing the retiring David Franczyk.
Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

"I knocked on a lot of doors and we talked to a lot of residents about a lot of issues," he said. "They want to see business on their strip, right? They want to see new businesses coming. They want to see government help business any way it can. We want to clean up the neighborhood. We want to take a tough stance on crime. Those are some of the issues that we're hearing throughout the district, but they want to know their councilmember is going to be there for them."

Fontana has already given Bollman the lawnmower the incumbent has used to cut the grass in vacant lots across Lovejoy for years.

Nowakowski is openly gay and said he did well in Allentown, but attributes his victory turnout to support in the growing Bangladeshi community.

"If you look at my margin of victory, I won by the Bangladeshi community coming out and I have fostered a relationship with them over a couple of years and made a lot of inroads and they came out with me in storm," he said.

While there is a November general election, winning the primary election means a likely general win in the heavily-Democratic city.

The third surprise of the evening concerned Republicans.

Chautauqua County  Executive George Borrello defeating longtime Allegany County legislator Curtis Crandall in a Republican primary election for a vacant seat in New York's Senate. The Republican primary winner is heavily favored to win the general election in November, due to the conservative makeup of the district.

The seat became vacant when Republican Sen. Catharine Young left to take a job at Cornell University's horticultural research institute. She held the seat for 14 years in the senate district that covers four counties in western New York.

Borrello will face off in the general election against Democrat Austin Morgan, a 22-year-old Cornell University graduate.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.