Wheatfield voters came to the polls in unexpected numbers for Tuesday's primary. At three sites, there weren't enough ballots for the new electronic voting machines.
Aside from the state races, where Carl Paladino won the Republican nod for the governor's race and John Accardo won the Democratic 140th District State Assembly line, the big issue in the Wheatfield was an unusual challenge to the Wheatfield Republican Committee. All but one of the challengers failed, according to unofficial results from the Niagara County Board of Elections.
Normally, the committee interviews and endorses two candidates in each of the town's districts. Primary challenges are unusual, but this year, each of the 11 districts had at least one challenger.
"Walt Garrow and Karen McKernan and I will be the new faces when the Wheatfield Republican Committee holds its next meeting," said Supervisor Bob Cliffe. (Also new will be challenger David Lee who won in District 2.)
"Thanks to the efforts of Jim Heuer and the full group of hard-working candidates, 21 of 22 of the ‘traditional' Republican candidates were successful in this primary election. This night proved to be a resounding thanks from Wheatfield's Republican voters for the many years these foot soldiers have worked for Republican values and Republican candidates," Cliffe said.
Former supervisor, Timothy Demler, who was dropped by committee both for re-election last November and for his committee seat this election, again was not re-elected. News also was released this week that Demler's contract to do a radio show on WLVL is not being renewed.
Only Town Attorney Robert O'Toole, a Bergholz resident, lost his seat on the Republican Committee, and the yet to be certified results show that was by only two votes.
Republican Committee Chairman Heuer said the primary turnout was "the biggest I've ever seen."
"I'm really gratified by the number of volunteers who came out to help us with poll watching and the candidates who worked real hard going door-to-door," Heuer said. "The voters came out and showed that they thought the existing committee people were the best candidates and have been doing a good job as far as endorsing candidates for office."
Heuer pointed out that in the past 12 years, no one the Republican Committee has endorsed for town office has lost an election.
"I thank all of the voters who came out for this important primary. I also congratulate those who chose to put their names out there but came up short. Come back and work with us for the continuing betterment of Wheatfield," Cliffe said.
Heuer, who ran for re-election to the committee in District 4, said the Niagara County Board of Elections allotted his district 150 ballots for the new optical scan voting machines at the Wheatfield Community Center polling site. Normally, there's maybe 75 voters at that site for a primary, he said, but on Tuesday, ballots ran out, leaving about 50 sealed votes to be counted in Lockport.
Heuer said District 6 at Adams Volunteer Fire Co. and District 7 at Holy Ghost School also ran out of ballots.
In the state races, the Niagara County Board of Elections unofficial results showed Niagara County voters chose Paladino (12,859 votes, 93.75 percent) over Rick Lazio on the Republican line. In the 140th Assembly District, Accardo (3,615 votes, 52.57 percent) beat out incumbent Francine DelMonte (3,262 votes, 47.43 percent).
The Wheatfield Republican Committee results follow. The first two candidates listed in each district are the unofficial winners. Those indicated on this list with an (*) are those chosen by the local committee.
District 1: Larry L. Helwig* (93 votes), Bruce R. Bowen* (78 votes), Craig M. Schultz (61 votes).
District 2: Linda Ross* (42 votes), David T. Lee (40 votes), Robert J. O'Toole* (38 votes), Michelle L. Campbell (28 votes).
District 3: Arthur F. Kroening* (60 votes), Kenneth A. Retzlaff* (55 votes), James P. Connell (16 votes), Lisa L. Demler (15 votes).
District 4: Gilbert G. Doucet* (90 votes), James D. Heuer* (89 votes), Matthew J. Forcucci (51 votes) Julie O. Forcucci (47 votes).
District 5: Kenneth J. Berner Jr.* (118 votes), Michael A. Gurnett* (117 votes), Anthony C. Barone (86 votes), Marc S. Courtney (41 votes).
District 6: Robert B. Cliffe* (147 votes), Walter D. Garlow* (136 votes), Charles D. Cederman (95 votes), Donna I. Cederman (92 votes).
District 7: Arthur W. Gerbec* (138 votes), Patti L. Weiss* (134 votes), John J. Petrozzi II (73 votes) Sharon A. Rosebrock (61 votes).
District 8: Paul V. Greinert* (96 votes), William R. Besecker* (79 votes), Jeffrey Rinaldo (54 votes).
District 9: Winston E. Moeller* (54 votes), Roger D. Lance Jr.* (45 votes), Ronald P. Dworzanski (40 votes), Marc J. Werth (38 votes).
District 10: William E. Buerger* (98 votes), Karen McKernan* (87 votes), Timothy E. Demler (60 votes), Jay A. Topolski (48 votes).
District 11: Terrance J. McIntyre* (70 votes), Richard W. Crossley* (70 votes), Kevin W. Forcucci (64 votes), John K. Rosebrock (59 votes).
Other Niagara County election results can be found at the Board of Elections website.