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Local newcomers joining incumbents in NYS Assembly

Some new faces from Western New York are headed to the New York State Assembly, while and some familiar faces are returning home.

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Republican Angelo Morinello captures the seat as a newcomer.

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
East Aurora Republican David DiPietro celebrated a reelection win.

Not unusually for state politics, a number of candidates won new terms without opposition: East Aurora Republican David DiPietro, Olean Republican Joseph Giglio, South Buffalo Democrat Michael Kearns, Buffalo Democrat Sean Ryan, as well as Lockport Republican Michael Norris who ran unopposed for the seat vacated by the retirement of Jane Corwin.

"I would like to thank the voters of the 144th Assembly District, who today placed their trust and confidence in me to serve as their voice in the State Assembly," Norris said on his Facebook page. "I humbly accept this responsibility and give my word that I will work tirelessly on behalf of all residents in my district and be a strong advocate for Western New York in ensuring that we receive our fair share!"

However, there also were competitions, with Kenmore Democrat Robin Schimminger beating Danielle Rotolo and Buffalo Democrat Crystal Peoples-Stokes beating Ross Kostecky - both by large margins - and Jamestown Republican Andrew Goodell beating Jason Perdue.

Lancaster Democrat and political newcomer Monica Wallace beat Lancaster Republican Russell Sugg for an Assembly seat vacated for the second time over sexual improprieties. Wallace said ethics reform will be her top priority.

"I want to make sure that we pass that ethics reform package," Wallace said. "I want to make sure that we fund schools so that we can prepare our students for their futures and I want to make sure that I work with individuals from all of Western New York to make Western New York the greatest place to live."

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Republican Angelo Morinello gets a congratulation hug from GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy to celebration his win Tuesday.

There also were some really contested races, especially the nasty race between incumbent Niagara Falls Democrat John Ceretto and Republican retired Judge Angelo Morinello. That race flipped the seat to Republican challenger Morinello.
"I tried a run as positive of a campaign as humanly possible," Morinello said in his victory speech. "I addressed issues. I came up with some resolution ideas, dealing with employment, dealing with we need to train for trades in the community. We need to analyze the broken system. We need to eliminate any duplication."

That race involved perhaps the most ever spent on a local Assembly race, with Ceretto potentially paying the price for switching parties and release of internal paperwork suggesting political motives in handing out state grants. Ceretto never appeared at his election night party site on 3rd Street in downtown Niagara Falls.

In the Amherst-Pendleton 146th District, Republican incumbent Ray Walter has unofficially won, although Democratic challenger Steve Meyer will not concede until the absentee ballots are counted. Walter said he won and is going back to represent Western New York in the Assembly. 

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Republican incumbent Ray Walter unofficially won and declared victory Tuesday night.

"We have a saying in the State Assembly, in the Minority Conference: 'It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.' So we're ready to go back to Albany and fight those New York City Liberals, represent Western New York values and do everything we can to protect what counts here in Western New York."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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