Republicans maintained their majority in the Niagara County Legislature on Tuesday, although Democrats appear to have picked up one seat in the election as unofficial results showed Democratic challenger Anita Mullane holding an edge over Republican and current legislature Chairman Keith McNall.
Unofficial vote tallies 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 Lockport VFW hall 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, 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 in the sixth district, according to unofficial results.
Late Tuesday, Virtuoso had 50.5 percent of the 2,340 votes cast, while Zajac held 49.27 percent. 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 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 districts are as follows.
First District: Republican Irene Meyers of Ransomville, who replaced the late Republican Clyde Burmaster on the ballot, bested Democrat Wendy Guild Swearingen of Youngstown. Meyers received 1,922 votes and Swearingen received 1,487.
Second District: Incumbent Republican Rebecca Wydysh of Lewiston won out with 1,574 votes in her competition with Democratic challenger Stephanie Kindzia of Lewiston, who received 1,012.
Third District: Incumbent Democrat Mark Grozio of Niagara Falls bested Republican challenger Robert Bilson, 1,819 to 1,706 votes.
Fourth District: Incumbent Democrat Owen Steed of Niagara Falls won in an uncontested race in which 1,298 votes were cast in his name.
Fifth District: Democratic challenger Christopher Robins of Niagara Falls had a nearly 20 percent victory margin in his race against Republican challenger John Accardo. Robins received 1,706 votes. Accardo had 1,108 votes. Robins will replace departing legislator Jason Zona in January.
Seventh District: Incumbent Republican Jesse Gooch of North Tonawanda beat out Democratic challenger Erik Herbert, 1,622 to 1,402 votes.
Eighth District: Incumbent Republican Richard Andres of North Tonawanda bested Democratic challenger Mark Houghton by nearly a two to one margin: 1,434 to 732 votes.
Ninth District: Incumbent Republican Majority Leader Randy Bradt of North Tonawanda was victorious over Democratic challenger Joseph Kissel. Bradt received 2,166 votes and Kissel received 1,236.
10th District: Incumbent Republican David Godfrey of Burt had a sizable margin of victory over Democratic challenger Trevor Ganshaw of Lockport (Cambria): 2,144 to 1,088 votes.
11th District: In an uncontested race, incumbent Republican Anthony Nemi had 1,988 votes cast in his name.
12th District: Incumbent Republican William Collins, Sr. of Lockport had among the largest victory margins of the night over Conservative and Libertarian challenger David Mongielo: 1,315 to 608 votes.
14th District: Incumbent Republican John Syracuse of Newfane received 2,057 votes in an uncontested race.
15th District: Incumbent Republican Michael Hill of Middleport received 1,919 in an uncontested race.