MAYVILLE - By the end of the night, both the County Legislature's two caucuses were counting Bob Duff as a member.
Representation in several districts will change from Republican to Democrat and vice versa in the coming year. However, as of Tuesday night, the majority of the legislature looks to stand with the District 3 representative from Sheridan.
Bob Duff is a registered Republican. However, Democrats stressed Tuesday that though Duff is a Republican, he has long voted with Democrats on issues such as the chairmanship of the legislature. Conversely, Republicans said Tuesday that Duff recently caucused with the party - something he has not done in recent years.
For Tuesday's election, Duff received the endorsement of the Democrats, the Republicans, the Conservatives and the Independence Party.
Only the outcome of one legislature race has the potential to be changed by absentee ballots.
In District 14, a total of 20 votes separate Timothy Hoyer and Michael Haddad. Hoyer is the Democratic-backed candidate for the district and ended Tuesday night with a total of 210 votes. Haddad closed the night with 190 votes. According to Norman P. Green, the county's Democratic election commissioner, there are a total of 67 absentee votes out in the district, which makes it technically possible for Haddad to still overtake Hoyer.
In terms of other contested races, Green said Democrat Bob Whitney won Maria Kindberg's District 15 seat over Republican challenger David Wilfong. Whitney ended the night with a total of 389 votes to Wilfong's 337.
In Legislative District 5, Rod Rogers beat incumbent Republican candidate Jerry Park 557 votes to 488. With only 38 absentee ballots out, Green said it's impossible for Park to somehow still hold onto the seat. Additionally, in Tami Downey's first actual election, the District 8 Republican lost her seat to Tom Erlandson, who won with a total of 541 votes to 443. Downey was appointed to the District 8 seat earlier this year following Ron Lemon's move to clerk of the legislature.
"The only place absentees are in play is the Hoyer-Haddad race," Green said.
Of the four other contested races in Tuesday's elections, incumbent Republican candidate Bob Stewart beat Democratic challenger Tamara Miles 727 votes to 417. Two years ago, Stewart barely beat the District 7 incumbent Democrat in a close race which ended up spending several months in court.
In District 10, incumbent Republican candidate Mark Tarbrake again beat Democratic challenger Pat Tyler, the former town of Ellicott supervisor. Tarbrake won with a total of 518 votes to Tyler's 413.
In District 22, John Hemmer will replace outgoing legislator Doug Richmond, having beat Democratic candidate Frederick Bertrando with a total of 770 votes to Bertrando's 564.
In Fredonia, the county's former public defender beat the village's former mayor, with a total of 770 votes cast for Billy Coughlin and a total of 527 votes cast for Michael Sullivan.
On Monday, the county's election commissioners said a total of 1,956 absentee ballots had been distributed. Of those, a total of 1,128 had already been returned. A total of 66 military ballots were distributed, with 17 returned as of Monday.
The deadline for ballots arriving is Nov. 15 for non-military and Nov. 21 for military ballots, with ballots having been postmarked Monday, Nov. 7. The Board of Elections' counting of ballots will start at 1 p.m. Nov. 21.
The work of the Chautauqua County Legislature will continue, regardless of who is in the majority in Mayville.
On the loss of seats, Majority Leader Larry Barmore, R-Gerry, said Tuesday that work will continue - as those elected have no choice.
"Obviously we're disappointed and the Democrats are happy," Barmore said. "Last time we were happy and they were disappointed. That's just the way it works."
Regarding the majority standing with Sheridan Republican Bob Duff, Barmore said the future is unknown.
"Bob Duff technically is a Republican, but we don't know," Barmore said. "Bob has voted with the Democrats over the last few years, but he stopped caucusing with the Democrats as well and he started caucusing with us again. He was at our last caucus. We invited him back and whether he's going to continue or not, we don't know. But he did caucus with us the last caucus."
At the Democratic headquarters in the city, Assistant Minority Leader Lori Cornell, D-Jamestown, said she was "totally in shock" from the night's results.
"I think it's a clear mandate for a change in direction," Cornell said. "I think the voters have spoken loudly and clearly in that we need to do things differently in Mayville, that we can provide the critical services that residents deserve at a lower cost. We can continue to operate without hiking taxes every year. We can continue to operate with more efficient delivery of services. We can continue to improve our neighborhoods and we can create more jobs, most importantly and above all else in Chautauqua County. There's a better way and that opportunity is here."
As of press time Tuesday night, the results reported to the OBSERVER showed the following Democrats as having won their races: Keith Ahlstrom, D-Dunkirk; Shaun Heenan, D-Dunkirk; Rod Rogers, D-Forestville; Thomas Erlandson, D-Frewsburg; Vickeye James, D-Jamestown; Lori Cornell, D-Jamestown; Paula DeJoy, D-Jamestown; Tim Hoyer, D-Jamestown; Bob Whitney, D-Jamestown; Chuck Nazzaro, D-Jamestown; Tom DeJoe, D-Brocton; and Billy Coughlin, D-Fredonia.
Additionally, the reported results showed the following Republicans as having won their races: Bob Duff, R-Sheridan; George Borrello, R-Irving; John Runkle, R-Stockton; Bob Stewart, R-Ellington; Larry Barmore, R-Gerry; Mark Tarbrake, R-Ellicott; Vince Horrigan, R-Ellery; P.J. Wendel, R-Lakewood; Jay Gould, R-Ashville; Fred Croscut, R-Sherman; David Himelein, R-Findley Lake; John Hemmer, R-Westfield; Bob Scudder, R-Fredonia.
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