CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Democrat Brian Nowak held a razor-thin edge in the election for Cheektowaga Town Supervisor with 100 percent of precincts reporting, as of Wednesday morning, leading Republican Michael Jasinski by just 36 votes in what has been a tight and, at times, bitter battle for the town’s highest office.
Nowak received 8,926 votes, good for 50.01 percent of the vote. Jasinski trailed with 8,890, which is 49.80 percent. That is a difference of just 0.21 percent and within the margin to trigger a manual recount, per Erie County election laws.
In a statement shared with News 4 Wednesday morning, Nowak declared victory, saying he was confident that his lead over Jasinski would remain even after all absentee votes were counted.
The race to replace outgoing Democrat Diane Benczkowski had been tinged with acrimony, with the two councilmen trading barbs at town board meetings and Jasinski and Benczkowski co-sponsoring an effort to censure Nowak over a dispute involving an ethics board candidate and an allegation that he bribed Cheektowaga’s highway superintendent. The resolution, which accused Nowak of leveraging his political power to prevent the deputy highway superintendent from receiving a promotion, failed to pass by a 3-3 vote — with Nowak abstaining — and the Erie County District Attorney found no evidence of criminality.
Notably, no well wishes were given toward his opponent in Nowak’s Wednesday morning statement.
“I also want to congratulate Jerry Kaminski along with all the other Democratic council candidates on a hard-fought and well-run race,” Nowak said.
One of the main issues animating the contest for Cheektowaga Republicans was the controversy over the housing of asylum seekers in hotels this past summer. The town reached a settlement in October that dictates all asylum seekers be removed from a hotel on Genessee Street by the end of 2024.
Both candidates ran on affordability issues, with Nowak calling to lower residential tax rates while slightly raising taxes on corporate properties and Jasinski advocating for tighter spending of taxpayer funds and speaking out against recurring tax assessments for homeowners.
As both candidates are town councilmen, whoever is declared Supervisor will leave a seat vacant on the board. Per the Erie County Board of Elections, the town board can appoint a board member for a term of up to one year. The board can also call for a special election for the seat to be held in 2024, leaving the seat vacant until then. That person would then be able to serve out the remainder of the term until the seat is back on the ballot in 2025.
“I’m looking forward to January and beginning the work as Town Supervisor,” Nowak’s Wednesday morning statement read.
Benczkowski, who has held the Supervisor seat since 2016, told News 4’s Tara Lynch that Election Day felt bittersweet.
“It seems strange that I am not out campaigning on Election Day, but I’m also looking forward to retirement and spending time with my family,” Benczkowski said.
Justin McMullen is a Western New York native who joined the News 4 team in 2023. You can read more of his work here.