Benton holds on to win seat on Albion Town Board

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 November 2015 at 12:00 am

DeCarlo also wins Gaines councilman over Lattin

Darlene Benton

ALBION – Darlene Benton held on to be elected to the Albion Town Board after absentee ballots were counted this morning.

Benton, running as a Democrat, held a six-vote lead a week ago, 526-520, over Paul Fulcomer, the director of the Veterans Service Agency for Orleans County. Fulcomer, a Republican, is soon to retire from that position.

Benton’s six-vote lead grew to 18 when the absentees were counted. She picked up 32 more votes, to 20 to Fulcomer. The final tally: 558 for Benton, 540 for Fulcomer.

“I was staying totally calm in the past week,” Benton said after the results were announced at the Board of Elections. “It’s not my will. It’s the people’s will.”

Benton has been active in Stop Polluting Orleans County, a citizens’ group opposed to more landfills in the community. She said she will stay vigilant in that fight, and work to keep residents updated on any developments with the landfill.

(The town was successful keeping Waste Management from opening a new landfill in the late 1990s, but Richard Penfold of Orchard Park is pushing to open a new landfill.)

Benton has spent much of her adult life in the public realm in Albion, helping to raise money for the former Arnold Gregory Hospital in Albion and the PAWS Animal Shelter. She also worked for Oak Orchard Health and as a dean of the Albion campus center for GCC.

She wrote a column, Making Choices, that appeared in the Lake Country Pennysaver and many free community papers for 15 years. She also runs her own business, Paradise Healing Arts.

Benton has watched the rebirth of the Medina business district in the past decade and she believes a similar phenomenon could happen in Albion.

“I’ve been excited to see what has happened there and I don’t see why it can’t happen in Albion,” Benton said.

She wants to partner with the village government leaders to promote small businesses. She also believes Albion could attract long-term light industrial development, perhaps by reaching out to companies that work in recycling. She also sees potential in a recycling center in the county.

“I think it would be exciting to work with investors on some of these ideas,” Benton said.

Benton was one of the few Democrats to pull off a victory this election season. She thanked her supporters, including many Republicans who donated to her campaign and helped get out the vote.

“It’s going to be exciting,” she said about serving on the Town Board. “I’m very honored.”

Matt Passarell was re-elected town supervisor without any opposition. Jake Olles, who was backed by Democrats and Republicans, was also elected to the Town Board.

In another close race locally, Richard DeCarlo held off Bill Lattin for the Gaines Town Board. DeCarlo had a 14-vote lead a week ago when the polls closed. Lattin narrowed that to seven votes after the absentees votes were counted this morning. DeCarlo won 381-374 for the Town Board seat.

Mary Neilans was elected to the Town Board by a comfortable margin with 445 votes. Pete Toenniessen came in fourth with 224 votes. Carol Culhane also was re-elected town supervisor.