Weekly Feature

2018-11-08 / Front Page

Voters support upsizing


Say what you will about this year’s election, 2019 will be one for the books, given the vote to increase the size of the Town Board.

West Seneca will see its largest ever election next November following Tuesday’s passage of the proposition to increase the seats from two to four.

Seven seats will be up for election in 2019 — including the supervisor and three council positions.

Town Attorney John Fenz said candidates for the two new seats will be voted on at the next biennial election, which is in November 2019. One seat will be for two years and another for four years; thereafter, the terms would be four years. The term of office of each such town council member will begin Jan. 1, 2020.

The proposition passed with 10,789 yes votes, 62 percent of the total.

According to those working at various polling locations, it was a historic year in terms of voter turnout, with nearly 17,500 votes cast compared to previous years with record low voter participation.

Residents filed petitions to upsize the board in 2012, and a referendum was on the ballot, but it was voted down.

This time, history did not repeat itself.

The proposition began its journey Sept. 28 when a petition was filed containing 915 signatures.

Daniel Warren, the resident responsible for the petition, had hoped to increase the Town Board on the belief that a three-member governing board is insufficient.

“A three-member board is a dangerously small legislative body in that it puts too much power in too few hands. James Madison warned us of this in Federalist 55,” he said, referring to an essay in the Federalist Papers.

Warren said the petition was generated by the Committee to Restore Representation in West Seneca as a cost-saving measure.

“As a student of the town, this is exciting,” Fenz said in an earlier interview. “The 2019 election cycle will undoubtedly be one of the most historic in the town’s 167 years, as there will be seven seats on the ballot: supervisor; four-year council term (existing); four-year council term (proposed); two-year council term (proposed); town clerk; highway superintendent; and town justice. I would be surprised to discover if this has ever happened before in West Seneca.”

County race

In the race for Erie County clerk, incumbent Michael Kearns garnered 51 percent of the votes, or 158,801, to defeat challenger Angela Marinucci.

Kearns, a Republican-endorsed Democrat, will now serve a full four-year term in the seat, after having won the vacant county clerk post last year.

State race

Election Day also reinvigorated the race for the 142nd Assembly District, this time also with a different outcome.

Patrick Burke, a Democrat, will now represent West Seneca, Orchard Park, Lackawanna and parts of the City of Buffalo. Burke challenged incumbent Erik Bohen, and won, receiving 52 percent of votes — 23,614 total.

Burke faced Bohen, a Republican, in a special election in April and lost by a narrow margin.

Also in the race was Michelle Kennedy, who gained 4 percent of the total votes.The seat carries a two-year term.

Congressional race

Incumbent Rep. Brian Higgins, a Democrat, won the race for the 26th Congressional District which includes portions of Erie and Niagara counties.

He faced challenger Renee Zeno, winning 74 percent of the votes, totaling 144,206.

The seat carries a two-year term.

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