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Hamburg town supervisor race is still too close to call

Supervisor Steven Walters
HAMBURG — The Hamburg Town Board will have at least two – and perhaps three – new faces, come Jan. 1.

Although there will be a newly configured town board in Hamburg, next year, the vote for town supervisor is still too close to call. While incumbent Steven Walters and challenger Walter Rooth III, separated by 158 votes, await the result of absentee ballot counting to determine a winner, Democrats won the two of the three town board seats.

In the contest for two seats on the Hamburg Town Board, political newcomers Michael Quinn and Cheryl Potter-Juda defeated incumbent Board Member Amy Ziegler and another newcomer, businessman Lawrence Speiser.

Walter Rooth III
The supervisor race, however, attracted county-wide interest. The race pitted Walters, who has called himself a “fiscal conservative and protector of the taxpayer,” against Rooth, who stressed the need for a “return of professionalism, civility and fiscal responsibility” from elected officials in Hamburg.

On Nov. 5, Walters collected 7,127 votes to Rooth’s 6,969, which left Walters with a slim lead, heading into the absentee ballot count. As of last Tuesday, 461 absentee ballots, received by the Erie County Board of Elections, have yet to be counted. According to that body, there may also be other ballots that were cast and not yet counted, due to procedural difficulties at the polling places.

According to Republican Elections Commissioner Ralph Mohr, the ballot-counting cannot begin until Nov. 18, 13 days after the election. This time frame allows for military and overseas ballots to be received by the board of elections and counted. Mohr also told The Sun that the count should take only a day or two.

Walters was originally elected in 2005 and reelected in 2009. He ran on a platform that spoke about his record of accomplishments in two terms as the town of Hamburg supervisor.

Rooth, a Democrat, is the son of Hamburg Town Justice Walter Rooth Jr. This is Walter Rooth III’s first foray into the political process, as a candidate. He was an assistant district attorney for 10 years, before entering private practice in Hamburg, seven years ago.

Rooth told The Sun that he remains hopeful, saying that he is optimistic that there are still votes out there for him; but he said he recognizes that he needs votes from across party lines, to overcome his deficit. “But I still have a chance,” he added.

Rooth said that his message to the voters remained true and helped him run a “positive campaign.”

He said that he told his family “I did everything I possibly could have done; I couldn’t have worked any harder, or asked any more of friends and family.”

Telephone calls made by The Sun to Walters were not returned.

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