By Lauren Zaepfel and Joshua Maloni
The final ballots in a tight race between incumbent Lewiston Highway Superintendent Douglas Janese and challenger David Trane were opened Thursday morning in State Supreme Court. Nine newly accepted affidavits confirmed Janese would continue on for another term.
In the end, Janese, a Republican, brought in a total of 1,771 votes, while Trane, a Democrat, brought in 1,764.
Both sides met inside the Lockport court prepared to go before Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. and conclude the process that began with Trane leading by 29 votes on Election Day. He fell behind by four votes when absentee and affidavit ballots were counted Nov. 10 inside the Niagara County Board of Elections offices.
That day, 14 affidavit votes were disallowed. Trane subsequently filed suit seeking 11 of those votes to be opened and counted. His petition called into question the reasons behind the ballot disqualifications.
Legal representatives for Janese and Trane approached Kloch with an agreement they made beforehand, in cooperation with the Niagara County Board of Elections. It was explained two of the 11 affidavit ballots were unusable. An individual who had relocated to Lewiston after living in Niagara Falls, but failed to change his home address, had cast one. The other was filed by a non-registered voter, whose registration was canceled due to a lack of voting in two consecutive federal elections.
Trane's petition also challenged one "found" ballot counted Nov. 10. The two sides agreed the absentee ballot was admissible and should be counted toward the overall total.
Kloch asked both parties if they would agree to open the remaining nine affidavits. The response was a unanimous "yes." Kloch said opening them seemed like a "good settlement." He congratulated both candidates and said they have "apparently been true" to what they serve, as they worked to make sure the results of the election would be most accurate.
"Good for you," Kloch said. "May the best man win."
The ballots were then opened and the votes were counted by Board of Elections commissioners Lora Allen (Democrat) and Jennifer Fronczak (Republican) in a jury room. Votes were read as follows:
The votes confirmed Janese would begin his fourth term as Lewiston highway superintendent.
Janese said he and Trane both ran a very good, clean campaign and congratulated his opponent. Janese said he was "very pleased" with the results. He said it has been a pleasure to serve Lewiston, and he is looking forward to continuing to do so in the next four years.
Those seeking an opportunity to vote, whose names do not appear in a poll book, are given an affidavit.