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Democrats retain control of Erie County Legislature

Kyle S. Mackie/WBFO News

Democrats kept control of the Erie County Legislature in Tuesday's election, maintaining a 7-4 majority in the chamber.

Republican Frank Todaro won a close race over incumbent Democrat John Bruso, 52% to 48%, in the legislature's 8th District. Democrat John Gilmour was victorious over Republican Ryan Stang 59% to 40% for the 9th District seat vacated by longtime legislator Lynne Dixon, who lost her race for Erie County executive to incumbent Democrat Mark Poloncarz.

Another newcomer to the body is Democrat Jeanne Vinal, who defeated Republican Shelly Schratz 54% to 45% in the 5th District, a seat vacated by Democrat Thomas Loughran.

In the 4th District, Kevin Hardwick was a 53-46 winner over Republican Jacob McMahon. Hardwick switched his allegiance and caucused with Democrats heading into 2019 and gained the Democratic Party endorsement for his re-election bid. Upon claiming victory Tuesday night, only then could he properly identify himself as a Democrat.

"When I filled out the forms in January to become a Democrat, I was informed that doesn't take effect right away. I was still a Republican this year, until there was an election," Hardwick said. "That election ended a few hours ago. So I am now a Democrat. I am now a proud Democrat. I am now a victorious Democrat."

Incumbent Democrats Howard Johnson, April McCants-Baskin, Lisa Chimera and Timothy Meyers easily won their re-elections bids, as did Republicans Edward Rath III and John Mills and Conservative Joseph Lorigo.

Legislature Chair Baskin is among those who like Erie County's new early voting system.

"I think the turnout of early voting was absolutely successful," she said. "I think New York State was really behind the ball with getting it done. But I'm so happy it was something that was able to be delivered in Albany this year. The turnout was great. I'm highly impressed. I got to early vote myself and enjoyed it."

Rath was asked what's on the minds of voters in his district, as he looked ahead to an agenda for his next term.

"One hundred percent, it's the roads," he replied. "We need to fight as much as possible and allocate as much money as we can to fixing our roads. Our infrastructure is crumbling, not on ly in my 6th District but all the way across all of Erie County. And the residents are very frustrated. We've done some work, not nearly enough, so that was an issue I was advocating for in this election and I will continue to do so going forward."

WBFO's Kyle Mackie and Tom Dinki contributed to this report.

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