Absentee ballots in Falls mayoral primary increase Restaino’s lead over Piccirillo

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NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — UPDATE: Unofficial results show in the absentee ballot count, Restaino has picked up 108 votes, while Piccirillo picked up 60 votes.

That increases Restaino’s unofficial lead to 127 votes.

The former city court judge now looks ahead to November.

“Obviously we want to try and maintain the enthusiasm and the momentum that we have, continue to get our message out that change is coming, that we represent true change from the current circumstances,” said Robert Restaino Friday night.

The Republican opponent is former city councilman Glenn Choolokian. He’s run for mayor before and lost to Paul Dyster in the 2015 primary by about 60 votes.

“My whole campaign is…that Niagara Falls needs to change, so I’m not really concerned about who I’m running against. I’m looking to get the message out what I’m going to do for Niagara Falls, how we’re going to turn it around,” Choolokian said.

At that time, he ran as a Democrat.

Choolokian has since re-registered as a Republican.

“Now on a federal level, the Democratic party of my father’s age is over. The original Democrats were the hard working family people, you know, and the direction they turned into…me and my wife’s family values – old school, church,” Choolokian said of his decision.

Whoever takes over has a financial mess on their hands. Voters have long been critical of previous leadership relying too heavily on casino revenue and not spending frugally.

“If you look at my track record as a councilman, all public record, I’ve always…anytime the City of Niagara Falls wanted to raise taxes, get rid of services, I always was very creative of cutting things to make sure we balance that budget,” Choolokian said.

Even though Restaino is the unofficial winner until the state approves the vote count, it was still by slim margin. News 4 asked him if he felt the primary was a tough race.

“I don’t think the primary was difficult for any other reason except that the turnout was very, very low,” Restaino said. “I think that we had a couple of other factors that were mixed into it, so that made the turnout rather depressing, when you think about the fact that we were electing folks to go forward for city office.”

Seth Piccirillo said he did win the Green Party and Working Families Party, so his name will still be on the November ballot, but he and his campaign are going to take the next few weeks to decide what they want to do going forward.

ORIGINAL: Absentee ballots are expected to be counted Friday in Niagara Falls.

This will be the final step in determining who will be running for Mayor of the Falls on the Democratic line.

Tuesday’s primary election was simply too close to call after polls closed.

Attorney Robert Restaino currently holds about an 80-vote lead over Community Development Director Seth Piccirillo.

170 ballots were mailed in to the Niagara County Board of Elections office. Those will be counted this morning.

Piccirillo, who has said he is not giving up, needs anywhere from 120 to 130 out of those 170 ballots to win the mayoral primary.

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