Elsewhere around New York: Democrats prevail in Erie, Suffolk counties; race to fill vacant Assembly seat too close to call

Democrat Mark Poloncarz defeated incumbent Republican Chris Collins Tuesday in the race to run upsta
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Democrat Mark Poloncarz defeated incumbent Republican Chris Collins Tuesday in the race to run upstate New York’s largest county.

With about 85 percent of the vote counted, Poloncarz had 54 percent of the vote to 46 percent of the vote for Collins, according to unofficial returns. He becomes just the second Democrat to hold the job in its 51-year history.

Elsewhere around the state, Republican Raymond Walter held a 653 vote lead over Democrat Craig Bucki with 87 percent of the vote counted in the race to fill the western New York Assembly seat left vacant when 12-year incumbent Republican James Hayes retired to take a job in the private sector.

There were still about 8,200 absentee ballots to be counted in Erie County.

On Long Island, Democrat Steven Bellone defeated Angie Carpenter in the race for Suffolk County executive. Bellone had 57 percent of the vote to 43 percent for Carpenter, according to unofficial results.

In Erie County, the sheriff’s office was investigating 10 absentee ballots that were sent to voters already marked for Collins. The campaigns each tried to implicate the other but police said neither campaign was thought to be involved and they were focused on Board of Elections workers, going so far as to say arrests last week were imminent.

But as of Tuesday, no charges had been filed.

The race took another twist when voters complained about a barrage of robotic calls at all hours of the day apparently supporting Poloncarz. His campaign denied they were making the calls and New York State Democratic Party suggested the calls were coming from Republicans in an attempt to anger Democratic voters.

Last year, Collins, 61, was viewed as a potential candidate for governor against Andrew Cuomo. But any aspirations quickly unraveled when he made a comment that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, an Orthodox Jew, was the third anti-Christ behind Napoleon and Adolf Hitler.

Town clerk in same-sex marriage flap re-elected

A town clerk in the Finger Lakes who refuses to personally issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her religious beliefs has won her re-election race.

Longtime Ledyard town clerk Rose Marie Belforti defeated Ed Easter, a write-in candidate who said he ran because Belforti’s stance on licenses was wrong.

New York became the sixth and largest state to sanction gay marriage this summer. Belforti said her Christian beliefs preclude her from issuing licenses to same-sex couples. Her solution was to have her office issue all marriage licenses by appointment so a deputy can handle them.

Belforti had 305 votes to 186 for Easter.

Belforti’s plan was criticized by some in the town and a lawsuit from a lesbian couple denied a license was being considered.

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