It was unlikely that Democrats would lose control of the Cheektowaga Town Board, where they hold all but one seat and account for more than 54 percent of registered voters townwide.
As election results came in Tuesday, two Democrats – incumbent Jim Rogowski and Diane Benczkowski, who was the spoiler in September’s Democratic primary – led the pack of seven in a race for three seats.
Later Tuesday, Democrat Tim Meyers was pulling ahead of Republican Roger McGill Jr. in what had been a close race for the third seat.
Terms are four years and pay $20,680 annually.
The other incumbent, Stanley J. Kaznowski III, was knocked off the Democratic line in the primary and continued his campaign on minor-party lines. The third seat up for election was left vacant by a health-related resignation earlier this year.
Going into the primary, the Democratic ticket was Kaznowski, Meyers – whose father, Ken, was a former town supervisor and former chairman of the Democratic Committee – and Rogowski. But things got interesting when Benczkowski finished first in the primary in the field of five.
Rounding out Tuesday’s ballot were Nicole Gawel, a registered Democrat, and the Rev. Rick Maisano, who were both endorsed by the town Republican Committee.
The Democratic Committee had been blamed for a negative primary mailer that targeted Benczkowski. But after her primary victory, the committee embraced her, plugging money and manpower into her general election campaign.
But Benczkowski, a longtime real estate agent, didn’t need to rely on the Democratic machine to get her name out there. She had recently completed 12 years of service on the Depew School Board and benefited from name recognition from previous bids for town clerk and the Town Board.
Meanwhile, the New York State Association of REALTORS Fund, a political action committee, sent at least two mailers on her behalf and, during the late stages of the campaign, provided robo-calls promoting her.
Rogowski is a teacher in the Lockport City School District and president of Lockport Robotics. Meyers is an airfield supervisor at Niagara Falls International Airport.
While the incumbents ran on their records of addressing quality-of-life issues, including vacant housing and absentee landlords, the Republican slate challenged the existing administration’s lack of transparency and criticized what they said was a continuing “friends and family” reign.
Throughout the campaign, Democrats outpaced Republicans in both raising and spending money – particularly on campaign mailings.