INNOVATIVE ideas about town government are rustling through the Amherst supervisor campaign like leaves in a fall breeze. Running for a special one-year term are Democrat Susan J. Grelick, the popular town clerk, and Republican William A. Pauly, long-time county legislator.
Grelick, 42, has spruced up the clerk's office during her four years there. She is now energetically pushing a torrent of ideas for governmental changes in this Buffalo suburb of 115,000. Many of them, however are small-scale and procedural, involving such items as forms and notifications.
Pauly, 56, has his own list of proposals for reform, and his offerings attack governmental problems more comprehensively and with wider vision. His 21 years in the Legislature make him a seasoned pro, and he comes equipped with a demonstrated independence and ability to prioritize changes and see them through.
Both candidates support Amherst's need for a master plan and tighter operations in Town Hall. Both champion greater efficiencies.
But Pauly has the surer sense about solving a problem that dominates Amherst concerns -- the elusive line between healthy economic growth and the preservation of the quality of suburban life. Commercial growth, as he sees it, is "too much, too fast," and Town Hall is too beholden to the town's "land-development interests."
He wants to refocus the Amherst Industrial Development Agency away from what critics reasonably see as overzealous raids on neighboring Buffalo commercial assets. Focus more on attracting business from outside the area, especially Canada, he urges, and put added stress on the redevelopment of older portions of Amherst that could use refurbishing.
Pauly promises to establish an independent task force of people from diverse outside sources to take a hard look at what he condemns as the town government's "bureaucratic build-out." By that, he means lingering committees created years ago that haven't changed, as well as jobs in the budget that could be abolished without loss of services.
In his view, there has been a void of professional cost analysis of town government, along with a need for closer relationships between town government and the University at Buffalo.
Although a Republican, Pauly has for years taken such an independent line in the County Legislature that he does not even caucus with other Republican lawmakers. At times, such flinty independence can be infuriating. But it marks a determination to do his own thinking and vote his own conscience.
Grelick, popular and enthusiastic, is a respectable candidate. But she is also one who can benefit from more of the gritty seasoning that Pauly already possesses.