Tonawanda News — Voters elected four fresh faces to the City of Tonawanda Common Council Tuesday, as two incumbents lost their attempts to retain their seats and two others previously stepped down.
The council will have Republican representation again, as First Ward candidate Chuck Gilbert, a one-term councilman, won over Democrat Paul Brunner by a margin of 565-306 votes.
Another Republican, John “Jay” Hall, won the Third Ward seat over two-term Councilman Richard Slisz, who narrowly won his 2011 bid. Although the Erie County Board of Elections did not publish final results as of deadline, the Democratic Party said Hall won by a 552-340 margin.
“It’s up to you guys to carry the torch,” chair of the local Republican Party, Christine Pilozzi, said at a gathering Tuesday night. “Go get ‘em.”
The Second Ward race was too close to call Tuesday night. Democrats said their candidate, Jackie Smilinich, had three votes on Republican Jon Juliano. As of deadline, the Erie County Board of Elections had the count as 259-254 in Juliano’s favor with half of the districts reporting. In the Fourth Ward, Democrat Jenna Koch won handily over Brian Jopp, by a margin of 846-253, according to the Democratic Party.
“I’ve never had a crew that worked this hard, and I’m looking forward to seeing the work that they are able to accomplish,” Gayle Syposs, the head of the local Democratic Party, said.
Voters were offered a clear choice between the two parties, with the plans to develop the 16.94-acre Little League Drive property into 53 homes as the main issue dividing local Republican and Democratic candidates ahead of Tuesday’s election.
Republicans argued that the city would benefit from increased tax revenue from the homes, and that the developer’s commitment to pay the $1.8 million in infrastructure costs made the project worthwhile. But Democrats argued against the plans for a tax abatement and condominium status that will result in the homes only being assessed at about 65 percent of their construction value.