By Joshua Maloni
The Niagara County Board of Elections on Thursday recanvassed the ballots from the Village of Lewiston mayoral race and certified the results. Pending a legal challenge, Anne Welch is the mayor-elect, topping challenger and current Deputy Mayor Bruce Sutherland by three votes.
The former clerk/treasurer held a four-vote lead on Tuesday. Sutherland gained one absentee ballot vote in the recount.
He has the option to challenge the ballots in Niagara County Court. Specifically, he can ask the court to determine if each ballot was cast by a person permitted to vote in this election.
"The results stand, that doesn't mean that it's over, though," Village of Lewiston Republican Committee Chairman Karl Frankovitch said. "There could possibly be a (legal) challenge. There were some ... irregularities with who voted and with the absentees."
"We verified what we already knew. Now we have to look at some of the allegations and see if they're worth pursuing," he added.
Frankovitch said, "It's not ultimately up to me. It's up to the candidate."
Sutherland is contemplating his options.
"I just want the election to be fair, and that people that are supposed to vote, voted. And that we don't have people that weren't supposed to vote, voting," he said. "Regardless of who they voted for - I don't know - I just want it to be a fair election. Let the chips fall where they may."
If the end result remains the same, Sutherland said he would consider getting involved with the Lewiston community in other ways.
"I can't sit idly by," he said. "It's hard for me to do that.
"We'll have to see how it goes. I might give it a little bit of time, talk to the wife and all that good stuff."
Welch, meanwhile, said she is breathing a little easier - though aware another challenge might arise.
"I'm so excited, and so much is going through my head about all the things that I want to do, and get going," she said. "I'm really, really excited."
Welch said she received a call from the Niagara County Board of Elections.
"They did the recount. I won by three votes. It's official," she said.
Since news broke of her win on Tuesday night, Welch said she's received numerous calls, texts and messages of congratulations - including notes from Assemblyman Angelo Morinello and Town of Lewiston Supervisor Steve Broderick.
"People I don't even know are texting me, saying, 'We're so excited for you to be mayor,' and 'Good job' and 'Well-deserved.' It goes on and on and on," she said. "The first night I was awake until 1 o'clock in the morning just getting texts."
The Village of Lewiston doesn't expect to receive any additional absentee ballots. There was a question as to whether or not any properly postmarked votes would arrive after Tuesday, and another as to whether or not the municipality would accept those ballots. There is nothing in the village code that states such votes should or shouldn't count.
A reorganizational meeting and swearing-in ceremony are scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. Monday, July 2, inside the Morgan Lewis Village Boardroom at the Red Brick Municipal Building.
Welch, a Republican, ran on the Democrat line. She received a total of 359 votes. Sutherland, a Republican running on the GOP ticket, collected 356 votes.