Election Day 2021: A Look At The Top Races We’re Watching

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JAMESTOWN – Today is election day! Polls open at 6 a.m. and remain open until 9 p.m. Tuesday.

WNY News Now will carry live results and, in the field coverage, starting at 8 p.m. on Tuesday at WNYNewsNow.com, our Facebook page, and Channel 716 on Roku.

Here’s a rundown of the top races we are watching.

Chautauqua County:

Across Chautauqua County, the biggest race of the night will be for County Executive with incumbent Republican PJ Wendel looking to extend his tenue over Democratic challenger Norm Green.

Wendel is running on a platform of “proven leadership” touting his success in steering the county through the pandemic, while Green’s main push has been to point out Wendel’s weak spots, specifically signaling out the county’s COVID-19 death toll and Wendel’s stance on state mandates.

Another top race is for Chautauqua County Clerk, with Republican incumbent Larry Barmore facing off against Democratic challenger David Salley. The two primarily differ on how the Department of Motor Vehicles is run, with Barmore operating the office as a business and Salley saying it should be run as a public service.

All 19 Chautauqua County Legislative Districts are up for re-election too, with the focus on nine contested races.

City of Jamestown:

Within the City of Jamestown, the Republican majority on City Council is at stake. Specifically, we are watching how the at-large race will turn out, with two incumbent Republicans seeking to retain their seats against four challengers: three Democrat and one Republican.

There are also three contested ward races — Ward III, Ward IV, and Ward VI — we are keeping an eye on, however most have long term incumbent Democrats, who are likely to retain their seat.

Ward I and II will see the re-election of Republicans Brent Sheldon and Tony Dolce since they are running unopposed. In the race for Ward V, the incumbent Republican has expressed his intention to not seek re-election, although he is already registered on the ballot. His Democratic opponent Doug Lawson could win the seat.

Western New York:

Across the region all eyes will be on the Buffalo Mayoral race. Community activist India Walton is the only candidate on the ballot after her victory in the Democratic primary, but she is still facing a vigorous write-in challenge from incumbent Mayor Byron Brown.

Walton shocked the four-term mayor in the June Democratic primary. But Brown has refused to quit. Some polls have shown him favored in the general election, but it isn’t clear whether enough supporters will write his name in on their ballots.

Walton would be Buffalo’s first female mayor and the first to identify as a democratic socialist.

Brown would become the first person to win a major race as a write-in candidate in the state, and — if he gets a fifth term — Buffalo’s longest-serving mayor.

Results in the race might not be known right away. Tabulation of write-in votes won’t start until several days after the election.

New York State:

There are two major propositions that voters will consider on the back of the ballot. First, New Yorkers are voting on several proposed changes to the state constitution, including two that could make it easier to vote.

One proposed constitutional change would remove a requirement that people must register to vote at least 10 days before an election.

Another change would make it possible for the legislature to make mail-in voting permanent. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the state has allowed any voters fearful of the virus to vote by mail, but Democrats want to make that permanent.

Before the pandemic, you had to be sick or out of town to vote with an absentee ballot.

Another ballot measure would alter New York’s process of drawing the boundaries of congressional and legislative districts. Republicans and some election rights groups say the referendum gives Democratic supermajorities too much power.

New York could also join a handful of states that have passed constitutional amendments giving people the right to a clean environment.

A measure on the ballot would approve adding the “right to clean water, clean air, and a healthful environment” to New York’s state constitution.

Pennsylvania passed the nation’s first such right in 1971.

Supporters say the amendment will require the government to consider environmental effects early on in policy-making and allow New Yorkers to sue when it fails to do so.

Republicans and the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York say New York will see a flood of costly lawsuits.


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