BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- The Erie County Republican Party walked away from Election Night with three major victories. Stefan Mychajliw was reelected as County Comptroller and Mickey Kearns was elected County Clerk. Barring any major surprises from absentee ballots, it’s almost certain incumbent Sheriff Tim Howard will also hold on for another term.
A political analyst told News 4, however, the Democrats have still put themselves in a strong position for years to come. They won the majority on the Erie County Legislature and swept the Amherst Town Board.
Democrat Brian Kulpa will be the next Amherst Town Supervisor, serving on a board made up entirely of members of his own party. Democratic town board candidates Jacqualine Berger and Shawn Lavin both won their races.
“We’re going to be able to come in with hopefully some unified vision,” said Kulpa.
The architect and Little League coach ran on a platform of making Amherst more walkable and bikable, redeveloping decrepit big box stores and transforming the old Westwood Country Club into a park and cultural center.
“It’s not just about Westwood,” he said. “It’s about looking at all of our parks and our park system, identifying where are we doing things exceptionally well and where are we doing things for the sake of calling it a park and letting it slip by.”
While having a one-party board could help get those projects done more quickly, Kulpa said he’s not bogged down by his political party and plans to represent all town residents.
“On a municipal level there’s no time for petty disputes for party politics,” said Kulpa.
But legal analyst Carl Calabrese, with Masiello, Martucci, Calabrese & Associates, said this Democratic board is important in a larger context.
“For the first time in my life time, and probably in history, all three first ring suburbs surrounding Buffalo are now in total democratic control; Town of Tonawanda, Town of Cheektowaga, and the Town of Amherst,” said Calabrese.
Along with Buffalo, which is controlled by Democrats, two thirds of all Erie County residents are now governed by the party on a local level.
The Democrats also now control the Erie County Legislature with John Bruso beating Republican incumbent Ted Morton.
Calabrese said when you add in highway superintendents and town clerks, the party has a strong future.
“Basically the Democrats have a farm system, like in a baseball team, of 30 elected officials in three major towns they can now groom to run for higher office someday,” he said. “The Republicans won the short game and the Democrats won the long game.”
Calabrese said it’s too soon to tell why Democrats are winning the local races but it could have to do with low Republican voter turnout. Another factor he speculated, could be that Republicans relied more on direct mail and not enough on social media.