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Many Erie County polls start slow, Niagara Falls mayoral race major talking point

Nick Lippa

It's just a matter of hours now before the votes will be tallied and candidates will know who will hold office. Many are coming out for the Erie County Executive race, pitting incumbent Mark Poloncarz against challenger Lynne Dixon, but there’s been several other factors which have impacted the polls this Election Day.

WBFO visited polls in Niagara Falls, Cheektowaga, Hamburg, and Buffalo’s East Side Election Day morning to gauge voter turnout and thoughts.

Election officials in each of these areas said there’s a sense of ambiguity at the polls this year. There wasn’t a large turnout in places like Cheektowaga, Hamburg, or the Manton district in Buffalo to start the day. Factors like rainy weather, early voting, and the lack of major races may have had a major impact.

Poloncarz said early voting has made this campaign an especially long one, but he can "see the finish line."

“Because of the changes associated with the new rules in New York State, instead of starting the petition process in June we were starting it in February. The primaries instead of being in September were in June. It just was a very long campaign. They say campaigns are a marathons. This was a marathon,” Poloncarz said.

Dixon said she "left no stone unturned" campaigning over the last year.

“I’m excited. It has been a wonderful almost year of campaigning. I’ve met so many amazing people along the way and had some amazing experiences. I’m looking forward to the culmination of all that work and I’m hoping and optimistic for a good outcome tonight," Dixon said.

The former southtowns county legislator says she made sure to get out every day of the campaign to talk with county residents, and doesn't think she could have done any more to win the election. As Dixon submitted her ballot at the Hamburg Village Community Center, a woman passing by yelled at her, ‘I came to vote for you.’

Poloncarz submitted his ballot during the early voting process.

On Buffalo's East Side, Llewellyn Daniel Sr. says the race for Erie County Executive is most important for him this election.

“I think we need Poloncarz back again. It’s just like he’s the right thing to do. I don't like that other person," he said. "It's my right to vote. Don't take that away from me."

Another East Side voter, Annie Porter, said she's voting for the city leaders who respond to neighborhood needs, not just development on the waterfront.

“These potholes out there on the road, I’ve blown two tires this year and that’s not good. We need better cooperation in the neighborhoods where we live. Not in the waterfront,” Porter said. “We pay taxes too. People got money on the waterfront. But we poor folks out here.”

In Cheektowaga, Armand Panek said he thinks it’s time for a change in Erie County party leadership.

“I just want to make sure that a Republican gets in to office,” Panek said. “I voted Republican down the line.”

While the Erie County Executive race has garnered much attention, the race for Niagara Falls mayor was a catalyst to get voters out this morning in Niagara County.

Niagara Falls resident Paul Ebbole said he’s excited to have a new mayor.

“Time for a change. Get out to vote. Do what you got to do,” he said. “It’s going to be interesting. It’s a fact, Niagara Falls is unpredictable. I think it’s going to be a big turnout because of the new mayor.”

Since incumbent Paul Dyster decided not to run for reelection, the race is between Republican Glenn Choolokian, Democrat Robert Restaino, and a third candidate on the New Dynamic Future line, Jeffrey Elder.

Niagara Falls resident Dan DeMartin was excited to vote for a few races in Niagara County because he’d like to see change to the city’s infrastructure.

“Main Street in Niagara Falls used to be a thriving area. It’s nothing but urban blight now. Who knows if it will ever come back” DeMartin said. “As far as getting downtown revitalized, I honestly think it’s never going to happen (at this rate).”

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.
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