BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Incumbent Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns declared victory after challenger Melissa Hartman conceded in the race for Erie County Clerk late Tuesday night.

Hartman held the lead early Tuesday evening with early voting and mail-in ballots counted, but fell behind with day-of ballots, receiving approximately 45.7% of votes.

Kearns received approximately 54.3% of votes, re-electing him for his second full term as Erie County Clerk.

Kearns, 53, a Democratic endorsed by the Republican Party, has served in the Clerk’s office since taking over after Rep. Chris Jacobs left to run for State Senate in 2017.

Hartman, 43, who currently serves as Eden Town Supervisor, won the Democratic primary in June, commanding 61.8% of votes, while Kearns received 33.6%.

Hartman is a Republican-turned-Democrat endorsed by the Democratic Party.

Prior to the primaries, Hartman proposed a gun buyback program that would allow residents to drop off firearms at any Clerk locations, including Auto Bureaus. Kearns opposed the buyback program.

During his tenure, Kearns has campaigned against “zombie” properties, calling on officials to take action.

Emily Miller is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2022. See more of her work here.