By Justin Sondel
The Tonawanda News
— Amy Hope Witryol made it official on Wednesday.
The endorsed Democrat and Working Families Party candidate in the race for the New York state Senate’s 62nd District conceded defeat in Tuesday’s election by sending a letter to her opponent, state Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane.
In her letter, delivered via email, Witryol congratulated Maziarz on his victory, while adding a few parting “suggestions” for the man who will represent a new-look 62nd District that will include the city of Niagara Falls starting next year.
Among Witryol’s suggestions to Maziarz: Amend rules surrounding franking budgets - the part of a state legislator’s budget covering expenses for delivering out “informational” mail to constituents - to allow for an equal amount of taxpayer money to be used by challengers so they can get their messages out during election season as well.
In her letter, the retired banking executive also encouraged Maziarz to change other aspects of state election law to create a more level-playing field for challengers and to follow through on campaign-season promises to lower the tax burden in Niagara County.
“If you are confident that you can win on a level playing field, these should be easy reforms to pass and ones which will reduce excessive spending in Albany to benefit the taxpayer,” Witryol said.
In a race that mirrored an earlier 2010 state senate contest between the same two candidates, Maziarz this week beat Witryol to retain the senate seat he’s held since 1995. Voting results eventually showed Maziarz winning by a significant margin, although technical difficulties experienced by the Niagara County Board of Elections caused a delay in the delivery of numbers from various districts on election night. As a result, Witryol chose not to concede late Tuesday, saying she wanted to see the final numbers from Niagara County - which were not available until the early morning hours on Wednesday.
In the end, Maziarz took 61 percent of the vote district wide to Witryol’s 37 percent.
The campaign leading up to Tuesday’s election turned acrimonious at times. The two have gone head-to-head on various issues outside of political campaigns in the past, including several related to the handling and dumping of hazardous waste in Niagara County.
On Wednesday, Maziarz said he was not surprised by the tone of Witryol’s
“I though the contents of the letter were indicative of the type of campaign that my opponent ran,” Maziarz said, referring to issues surrounding his record and campaign that were raised by his opponent during the race.
Maziarz added that he was proud to get over 60 percent of the vote despite picking up the city of Niagara Falls - a democratic stronghold - in redistricting. Witryol won Niagara Falls by a count of 8,888 votes to 6,058, but took no other town in Niagara County, where Maziarz garnered 48,509 votes to her 30,473.
The senator said he wished the best for Witryol in the future.
“I certainly wish my opponent well in anything that she might do,” he said.
Witryol said she is ready to get back to normalcy and do some of the things that she has been putting off during the campaign, like visiting a new addition to her family, a baby girl born to her cousin.
She spent time Wednesday calling and thanking volunteers without whom she would not have had been able to run her campaign.
Witryol does plan on following up on two complaints involving Maziarz that she filed with New York’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics during the campaign, she said.
“My first priority is going to be to get more than four hours of sleep,” Witryol said. “The next will be to thank all of the people who helped with the campaign, After that I’ll clean the gutters and vacuum the house.”
As votes trickled in slowly Tuesday night in to Wednesday morning, though, Ceretto edged into the lead.
Despite his election night confidence, Restaino now needs the remaining absentee votes to break nearly 2 to 1 in his favor to oust Ceretto.