by Susan Mikula Campbell
Town Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe got a nod of approval for a second term in office from Wheatfield voters on Tuesday, easily winning re-election.
According to Niagara County Board of Elections' unofficial results, Cliffe, running on the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines, had 1,828 votes or 65.47 percent, while opponent Donald J. Wallace, running on the Democratic and Working Families lines, pulled in 964 votes or 34.53 percent.
"It looks like another great night for Wheatfield Republicans," Cliffe said of the election, which also turned out to be a winner for Town Board members Larry L. Helwig and Gilbert G. Doucet.
"I found a bottle of RedCLIFFE Riesling wine this week. Although I don't drink, a little nip of this will really taste great tonight. Thank you, Wheatfield!" Cliffe said.
Cliffe didn't have much time to celebrate. It was immediately back to the front lines on Wednesday evening with a public hearing on the proposed 2012 budget.
Cliffe's opponent Wallace said he had run for election to give voters an option other than former supervisor Tim Demler who was attempting to grab the Democratic line. "I do not want Wheatfield to return to the dark days we had under the former supervisor," he said in his campaign.
Demler did try to mount a write-in campaign, but results were not yet available from the Board of Elections.
Unofficial results also showed Helwig (R, C, I) and Doucet (R, C, WF, I) won re-election. Opposing them were Robert J. Pino (D) and Barbara A. Lange (D).
Helwig had 1,742 votes or 26.7 percent; Doucet had 1,625 votes or 24.9 percent; Lange had 1,588 votes or 24.34 percent; Pino had 1,570 votes or 24.06 percent.
The Town of Niagara is now in the new Legislature District 5, which includes part of Niagara Falls. Jason A. Zona (D, WF, I) came in with 1,702 votes or 58.35 percent of the vote, while town resident Brittany I. Catchpole (R, C) had 1,215 votes or 41.65 percent. Catchpole, 18, a 2011 Niagara-Wheatfield High School graduate and former County Legislature intern, was appointed to the County Legislature to replace Danny Sklarski, who left to return to his previous position as town councilman earlier this year.
The only County Legislature race affecting Wheatfield voters was District 7. Wheatfield resident Kathryn L. Palka Lance (R, C, I) had 1,547 votes or 60.62 percent over Wheatfield resident Gerald J. McCormick (D, WF) with 1,005 votes or 39.38 percent.
In the Town of Niagara, the only contested race was for highway supervisor. Robert E. Herman Sr. (D, C, WF, I), former town councilman who was appointed to the position earlier this year was successful with 736 votes or 59.84 percent over Donald E. Schildhauer (R), who had 494 votes or 40.16 percent.
In the county clerk race, incumbent Wayne F. Jagow (R, C, WF, I) received 20,831 votes or 62.57 percent besting challenger Pat L. Murphy (D, Niagara Taxpayer), who had 12,461 votes or 37.43 percent.
The county coroner race for District 4, which includes Town of Niagara, saw Russell Jackman II (R, C, I) with 4,651 votes or 61.38 percent over Gerald Frazier II (D, WF), who had 2,927 votes or 38.62 percent.
Board of Elections Republican Commissioner MaryAnn Casamento said final tabulations aren't complete, but generally about 26 percent of voters come out in non-presidential election years. Presidential election years usually bring out about 60 percent of the voters. It's discouraging, she said, "Unfortunately people don't realize the local elections sometimes are the most important. They do dictate what happens in your own personal area."
One local polling place, however, seems to have a lock on voter turnout. Holy Ghost Lutheran School in Bergholz even had voters from other districts stopping by to take advantage of its annual bake sale.
Sale chairman Louise Schildhauer said Wednesday that the sale was a success, with the word getting out to other sweet lovers, even though election turnout wasn't up to what it is in a presidential election year.
Schildhauer and her volunteers made about 360 pies this year, as well as a variety of cookies, turnovers and other treats.
While Holy Ghost voters emphasized the importance of voting, many admitted they also came for the sale.
Nathan Ferchen said he came "to vote and get some goodies."
"I think it's everybody's duty to vote. Now's the time to voice your strength. It's very important."
Voter Rusty Deacon said, "It's (voting) important to me. I think it's my duty as an American to do this." However, he added he would be checking out the bake sale offerings as soon as he finished voting. "I gotta get a cherry pie, a carrot cake (his personal favorite) and some kind of sweet roll."