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Peter Marston, who won the election for town supervisor, is joined by council members Christian Bahleda, left, and Tom Digati, right, who won reelection. They gathered at the Bridgeview Tavern after the polls closed.
Peter Marston, who won the election for town supervisor, is joined by council members Christian Bahleda, left, and Tom Digati, right, who won reelection. They gathered at the Bridgeview Tavern after the polls closed.

Grand Island: Marston wins for supervisor; Digati, Kilmer top council race


Wed, Nov 8th 2023 08:20 am

Article and Photos by Karen Carr Keefe

Senior Contributing Writer

Peter Marston will be Grand Island’s new supervisor. The current deputy supervisor won on the Conservative line, with 57.76% of the vote, against Republican Mike Madigan, who garnered 41.85%, in Tuesday’s general election. Marston got 3,510 votes to Madigan’s 2,543.

Incumbent Council member Tom Digati was the top votegetter for Town Board, with newcomer Dan Kilmer winning the second council seat up for grabs. Digati, on the GOP and Conservative lines, captured 3,953 votes, or 32.67% of the total; Kilmer, on the Republican ticket, won 3,247 votes, achieving 26.83% of the total votes cast.

Other contenders in the council race were Democrats Wayne West, who won 22.9% of the vote; and Kristen Obarka, who got the approval of 17.23% of voters.

In other Island races, Pattie Frentzel retained her seat as town clerk, one she has held since 2004. She ran on the Republican and Conservative lines, winning 4,693, or 72.65%, of the votes. Her opponent, Democrat George Hauss, got 1,760 votes, or 27.24%, in his second run for the office. Mark Nemeth ran unopposed for his second four-year term as town justice.

Marston credited his successful campaign to a strong team effort that enabled him to capture the Island’s top elective office from a minor party line, the Conservative Party. Madigan bested Marston in the GOP primary.

“I think my team and I – and it’s never ‘I,’ it’s always ‘we’ – I think everyone did a great job,” Marston said, adding he had support from all walks of life. “Men, women, Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives, blanks – everybody!”

“We ran an extremely clean campaign,” he noted. “We had no interest in running a mudslinging-type campaign. That’s the way it should be. Most of my team are all Islanders forever, and that’s how Islanders do things.”

Marston called his three-month solo gig as deputy supervisor “a preamble” to his taking office as supervisor in January. He took over when former supervisor John Whitney resigned in August.

“The biggest thing I’ve pushed all along is collaboration between all our departments. I’ve made huge inroads since I’ve been a councilman. I see that getting better and better. We look at ways to share resources to save money,” he said. “Our budget’s pretty tight, so we’re going to have to do some creative thinking to get through things, but it’s a lot easier with a team than doing it alone.”

Marston said he has a good working relationship with Digati and is glad that he is back as a council member.

“I think the next interesting task we need to take on as a board is we need to discuss what happens with my seat, which I will vacate,” Marston said. “We’re going to have to do something there, whether it’s leave it empty, or if we appoint somebody, or we call for a special election.”

Madigan said, “First and most importantly I congratulated Supervisor-elect Marston this morning (Wednesday) on his big win.

“Second, I thank all the many individuals who supported my candidacy and worked so hard advising me and going door to door supporting both myself and Dan Kilmer who prevailed in this election.

“Congratulations to Dan, Tom, Pete, Mark and Pattie in their wins.

“This race was a rollercoaster, and I really enjoyed the ups, like the primary win against all odds, but boy that sudden stop at the bottom – OUCH!

“There is a silver lining in adversity: I met really great people, folks who will always be considered friends through the relations we built during this campaign. Thank you!

On to the next chapter in my life. When one door closes, another one opens.”

Digati said it feels great to have won reelection to the Town Board – “But more than me being a winner, I’m incredibly happy that the Town of Grand Island elected Pete Marston for supervisor. I think it goes to show that people are willing to work collaboratively and put the residents of Grand Island first. It matters for a local election. Party politics aside, let’s do what’s right – who has the best interest of the Island in mind.”

His agenda for a second term: “I’d like to focus on getting things done, not chasing our tails. I’d like to reform the zoning law. I’d like to work on getting a community center and work on making positive improvements to our community.”

Successful town supervisor candidate Peter Marston celebrates his win with his family on election night. With him are his wife, Susan, and his son, Peter III.


Frentzel said, “I’m thrilled to be able to do another term to continue to serve as the town clerk. I love my job and I love what I do. And I can’t wait till the next chapter of the town’s history that starts in January with our new Supervisor Marston, and Tom Digati, Dan Kilmer and Mark Nemeth serving with us on our team.”

She said customer service is and always will be her prime focus.

“I will continue to serve the Islanders as they expect me to serve, along with my fabulous staff of deputies,” Frentzel said.

Nemeth said he is looking forward to serving another four years as town justice.

“It’s a very well-run court with Judge (Mark) Frentzel and the clerks there,” he said.

Hauss said, “I’m pleased we ran a positive campaign.”

He said he hopes he got some ideas out there that would be useful for the community: “I care about Grand Island. I want the best for the community.”

West said he lost a seat on the Town Board by about 500 votes.

“A bit of a surprise; I pulled from each of the camps,” he said. “The Democrats came out, the Conservatives came out, the Republicans came out.”

He said he had some goals for the town that resonated with voters.

“I think that I had a boulevard beautification plan that people liked, restoring that Grand Island Plaza and some of the businesses along the boulevard,” West said.

He also cited a plan “realistically assessing our properties so that our property values are more in line with what they’re worth so that we’re not being taxed higher or lower, which several candidates seemed to think was a good idea to do.”

West said he also favors working across party lines to achieve goals that benefit the community.

Successful town supervisor candidate Peter Marston celebrates victory with his campaign team on election night at the Bridgeview Tavern. Pictured, back row, from left: Christian Bahleda, Tom Franz, Rob Ratajczak, Peter Marston, Peter Marston III, Susan Marston and Dick Crawford; and front row, from left: Tom Digati, Scott Hammond, Rhonda Diehl, Laurie Delo, Danielle Gworek and Jennifer Pusatier.

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