by Terry Duffy
Lewiston voters continued the wave of Republican support seen nationally Tuesday by opting to stay the course and maintain the GOP majority on the Lewiston Town Board.
They elected newcomer Beth Ceretto, R-C-I, to fill the seat vacated this summer by Mike Marra, and reaffirmed their support for Bill Conrad, R-C, appointed earlier this year to fill the seat vacated by Ernie Palmer, for a full term.
According to official results by the Niagara County Board of Elections, by the numbers Conrad was the top getter with 2,790 votes cast over Democratic newcomer Keith Ahlas, who had 1,530.
"I'm happy to have the opportunity to go back in, work on behalf of the residents of Lewiston and try to unify the town a little bit, the village and Sanborn, get ourselves on some good fiscal solid ground," he said. "And be a little more open ... more involved in the things we do, day to day, and hopefully show the voters that they made a wise choice with Beth and myself ... and look forward to taking on the challenges that we have ahead of us."
When asked on the challenges the town has faced with the budget, Conrad seemed satisfied. "So far, I think with the cuts that we made, it looks very good, pretty solid ... unless something unexpected comes up, we should be fine."
Ahlas said he was satisfied with his first-ever run for public office and indicated his interest in running again. "It's been a great experience. Friends and family were always supportive, and there's always next year."
Ceretto, wife of state Assemblyman John Ceretto, was second in the count with 2,485 votes cast over her opponent, Democrat David Sanchez, who had 2,039. She was ecstatic upon hearing the final results.
"I'm overwhelmed ... I am grateful for all of the Lewiston voters, and I am grateful for their faith in me, and knowing that I will do the best job that I can for the community. Thank you all of you."
Saying she's ready to face Town Hall challenges head on, Ceretto added, "I am very much into the scope of the budget and will work on it with the rest of the committeemen and the supervisor."
Ceretto will be in office for a three-year term.
In his remarks, Sanchez called his run for office, his second such attempt, a great experience.
"Obviously I'm very disappointed in the results tonight, but it doesn't take away from the experience for me, personally. It has been a great experience ... I've come across tons of people in the community," Sanchez told a crowd at the Brickyard.
"Certainly tonight's results are not reflective of my feelings or commitment about our community ... it's a great place to live, there are great people here, there are great people out those doors.
"One thing that I have learned in going through this is that running a campaign like this is something you absolutely cannot do on your own. It is a team effort from bottom to the top, and I had so many people come to my assistance, from the Lewiston Democratic Committee to republican friends, top to bottom, people have been so supportive and I can't tell you how grateful I am. Thank you very much."
Town Clerk Donna Garfinkel, D-R, who waged a quieter campaign over past months following her primary win in September over Regina Cecconi, C-I, bested Cecconi again Tuesday by a count of 3,552 to 881.
"I would like to thank the Town of Lewiston residents for voting for me, I appreciate it, and I will continue to serve in the best way that I can ... as town clerk," said Garfinkel.
On what's ahead, she continued, "I will continue to work in the positive direction we are already moving in. We will be consolidating the offices of town clerk and receiver of taxes. The process has begun to accept credit card payments at all Town Hall offices, with payments taken online not far behind. These are just a few changes happening at Town Hall.
"Again, thank you for your support and confidence in me as your town clerk," she closed.
In other local races, Porter Town Clerk Barb DuBell, who ran uncontested, won her seat with 1,469 votes. There were also five unspecified write-in votes cast.
"Many thanks to everyone who voted to keep me as their town clerk," said DuBell. "I am very grateful for your support and confidence. I look forward to be here to serve you for another year."
In the State Senate race, Republican City of North Tonawanda Mayor Robert Ortt defeated Niagara Falls Democrat Johnny Destino to lay claim to George Maziarz's State Senate seat. Election results showed Ortt claiming 45,485 votes to top Destino's 20,564 votes.
Maziarz opted not to run for re-election in the 62nd District.
And in uncontested races for the State Assembly, 144th District Assemblywoman Jane Corwin's vote count totaled 15,001, and 145th Assemblyman John Ceretto's was 17,205.