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Early voting set tone for many results

Publisher’s notebook

It appears those who lean left were more apt to take advantage of the early voting, which was offered from Oct. 26 to Sunday in three locations across Chautauqua County.

Once the polls closed at 9 p.m. Tuesday, the county Board of Elections did an excellent job of informing the public about the running totals. The first numbers that appeared — with none of the 98 districts reporting — were the ballots cast in the first nine days.

Across the board, those votes appeared to benefit the Democrats in the larger communities. In the city of Dunkirk, incumbent Mayor Wilfred Rosas held a 62% to 38% advantage over challenger Shaun Heenan. On Election Day, those numbers were much different. Those who came out, backed Heenan with 53% of the vote.

It is a race still too close to call and will come down to absentee ballots — about 123, which will be opened in 11 days, according to the county Board of Elections. In alerting the media to the number of ballots still to arrive, commissioners Norman Green and Brian Abram noted this: “Most absentee ballots have seven days after the election to be returned,” they wrote. “Exception is military and overseas absentees (as they) have 13 days to be returned. All received absentees and affidavit ballots will be added to the election night totals starting 13 days after the election.”

That falls on Monday, Nov. 18.

Even the three Democratic council candidates who lost had comfortable leads from the early voting in the city. Once the Tuesday totals were added, the outcome was dramatically different for Miriam Lugo-Alfaro, Michael Civiletto and Frank Beach.

Fredonia saw a similar trend. Village Board winners Roger Pacos, Kara Christina and James Lynden got a jump on the challengers and never looked back. In fact, the only candidate to gain some ground on Tuesday was Republican Vicky Cunningham, who finished in fourth place.

In the village race for mayor, however, it was quite clear the result would not go the same way. Just after 9, incumbent Democrat Athanasia Landis had an eight-vote lead over Douglas Essek. It was a startling difference compared to what the trustees’ race showed.

By 10 p.m., Essek had more than made up the margin for that day of voting to claim victory.

Locations outside the two largest populated north-county areas also showed interesting trends. Arkwright seemed bent on making changes, not just from the Arkwright Advocates party but from a community that is still steaming over the placement of turbines in its town.

Support for those Advocate candidates was indicated when early voting results were revealed. The party went on to collect big victories for supervisor, highway superintendent and two Town Board seats.

Villenova, on the other hand, had the opposite results. Those who favor the 600-foot turbines, including current Supervisor Yvonne Park, all won re-election. Those candidates, as well, led from early voting to the end.

It has only been one year, so there are no true trends to analyze. But overall, more than 3,800 people — or about 6% of all registered voters — took advantage of the first nine days. That means they are all engaged.

That, for all intents and purposes, is a good sign.

John D’Agostino is the OBSERVER publisher. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call 366-3000, ext. 401.

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