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2011 primary results, Ryan wins Assembly election

By Mark Scott and Michael Mroziak

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-986097.mp3

Buffalo, NY – Primary elections were held in cities and towns across Western New York Tuesday. But there was also a high profile special election to fill a vacancy in the State Assembly. In that one, Democrat Sean Ryan beat Republican Sean Kipp and the Green Party's Gregory Horn to fill the 144th Assembly District seat. Ryan greeted supporters at an Elmwood Avenue restaurant where he acknowledged the challenges he now faces as an elected official.

"We have a shockingly high poverty rate in the city of Buffalo. We have an unemployment rate in parts of the West Side for males under 25 that exceeds 50 percent," Ryan said. "These are things we need to work on."

Ryan will fill the remainder of Sam Hoyt's term. Hoyt resigned over the summer to take an economic development job in the Cuomo administration. (Listen to Michael Mroziak's report on Ryan's election victory.)

In the primary elections, absentee ballots are likely to determine the winners of two local mayoral contests. In Lackawanna, Councilman Geoffrey Szymanski is leading political newcomer Dion Watkins by a single vote in the Democratic primary for mayor.

In Lockport, incumbent Mayor Michael Tucker holds a two vote lead over challenger Phyllis Green in a Republican primary.

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster won an easy victory over three challengers in a Democratic primary. Dyster says voters sent a message that they're pleased with the direction Niagara Falls is heading.

"I think people realize that any political jurisdiction that experiences instability is going to have trouble meeting its long term goals," Dyster said. "I think people realize we're moving in the right direction."

In West Seneca, town board member Sheila Meegan beat incumbent Supervisor Wallace Piotrowski in a Democratic primary. But Piotrowski has the Republican party endorsement, so the two will compete in the November election. And in spirited primaries for Town Clerk in Tonawanda, Marguerite Greco won the Democratic primary while Patrick Ruffino was the winner on the Republican side.

Erie County Executive Chris Collins won the Independence Party line Tuesday. A loss by Collins would have indicated some vulnerability in his upcoming general election campaign against Democrat Mark Poloncarz. But Collins says his primary victory shows he was able to overcome some of the jabs Poloncarz threw at him.

"You can say what you want to say. But for the 2,500 people who rented park shelters and know the condition of our parks, it's results and accomplishments that matter," Collins said.

In Buffalo, all four incumbent Common Council members who faced Democratic primary challenges won their races.

In the Democratic primary for City Court, incumbent judges Robert Russell, Susan Eagan and Joseph Fiorella won as did newcomer Diane Wray. Incumbent Judge David Manz lost. But Manz is still on the November ballot on the Republican line.

In primaries for Erie County Family Court judge, City Court Judge Sharon LoVallo won the Democratic primary while Family Court incumbent Patricia Maxwell was the victor in the Republican primary, setting the stage for a general election battle between the two.

WBFO's Ashley Hassett contributed to this story.