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Today is primary day in New York State, and an opportunity for party voters in Western New York to choose nominees to represent their party in the November general elections.

Members of the Democratic, Conservative, Working Families and Independence parties should make sure they get out today and exert their influence.

Far and away, the most significant race is in the Democratic Party, and features a clash between Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, hoping to win a third term in office, and Bernard Tolbert, former chief of Buffalo’s FBI Office. In a city where the Democratic mayor is heavily favored to win in November, this is a critical vote for city Democrats who want to have a say in who leads the city for the next four years.

It’s not a guarantee. In November, the winner of today’s mayoral primary will face Republican Sergio R. Rodriguez, who has shown himself to be a credible candidate.

Another high-profile race for Democrats to decide today is their candidate for Erie County sheriff. Bert D. Dunn is a 12-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, and is backed by party leaders. His opponent, Richard E. Dobson Sr., is retired after spending 32 years with the department. The winner will face incumbent Sheriff Timothy Howard in November.

Other Erie County primary races to be decided include Family Court judge, five County Legislature races and county comptroller. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

In Niagara County, races include 10 County Legislature contests, two seats on the Niagara Falls City Council and races in the City of Lockport, the Town of Lockport, North Tonawanda, Lewiston, Newfane, the Town of Niagara, Pendleton, Porter, Somerset and Wheatfield.

These races all carry some level of importance and are worth the time of party voters to cast their ballots. The winners could be making decisions on their behalf come January.