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NASTY TONE OF RACES IS LIKELY TO INCREASE

If you thought some of Tuesday's primary races in the suburbs were raucous, get ready.

More of the same is on the way.

With the primary now over, the towns of Amherst, West Seneca and Lancaster, the City of Lackawanna and the Village of Kenmore are rushing forward with campaigns likely to make the primaries look tame.

"The best thing you can say about the November election is that it will all be over in about seven weeks," said Joseph F. Crangle, a political analyst and former head of the county Democratic Committee.

Here's a sampler of some of Erie County's hottest suburban races:

In West Seneca, there is talk that the head of the county Democratic Committee, G. Steven Pigeon, hopes to topple one of the party's own, Supervisor Paul T. Clark, by backing -- of all people -- a Republican.

Pigeon and Clark are longtime enemies.

"We're awfully suspicious" of Pigeon, said William Bond, who heads West Seneca's Democratic Committee.

Clark, supervisor for eight years, faced only token opposition until the surprise entrance into the GOP primary of William P. Malczewski, a former School Board member.

Malczewski ended up beating Adrian J. Para, the endorsed candidate. His campaign is being helped by Robert J. Jarnot, a past Pigeon ally.

Clark supporters suspect Pigeon had a role in the Malczewski development, although not necessarily a direct one.

"It probably has his tacit approval," said Bond.

Malczewski denies Pigeon was involved. So does Pigeon.

Clark "has taken away the two-party system in West Seneca," Pigeon said. "I want to see a system where people have a choice. But I support Democrats, not Republicans."

Democrats in Amherst

In Amherst, the Democrats are trying to hang onto the majority they gained, for the first time ever, just two years ago.

"I'd say it's up for grabs," said William L. Kindel, the only Republican up for re-election.

The other three seats are now occupied by Democrats. Peggy G. Santillo isn't seeking re-election, leaving her seat open. Battles are also shaping up for the other two Democrats -- Michael G. McGuire and Todd E. Shatkin.

Kindel theorizes that the Town Board's Democrats will be hurt this year by the tight race between County Executive Gorski and Joel Giambra.

The GOP's Giambra "will bring out the vote" in Amherst, which is heavily Republican, Kindel said.

Robert J. Brewer Jr., a Republican, and Thomas Pecoraro, an Independence Party leader endorsed by the Democrats, are running for Shatkin's seat, a two-year unexpired term he is leaving behind to run for a four-year term instead.

Candidates for the four-year term besides Shatkin are Emil K. Everett and Richard Wojtowicz, both Republicans, and Daniel Longo, a Democrat.

Meanwhile, bad blood is fueling a grudge match between Highway Superintendent Thomas J. Wik and the 22-year incumbent he narrowly beat at the polls four years ago, Patrick G. Lucey.

Wik already has amassed $56,541 in his campaign coffers, compared with Lucey's $11,266.

Both Lucey and Wik have vowed to run positive campaigns, but that isn't likely to last long.

In fact, Lucey already is circulating a snapshot that appears to show Wik napping during a Town Board meeting.

"They call him Rip Van Wik at Town Hall," Lucey said. "He's always sleeping."

"Ridiculous," retorted Wik. "I don't sleep during Town Board meetings."

Anti-sprawl in Lancaster

In Lancaster, Supervisor Robert H. Giza is under siege from an anti-sprawl group running an "anyone but Giza" political campaign. The group is backing Fred Hammer, a Republican who has been genial so far.

But Citizens Against Retail Sprawl -- which sprang up when a developer announced plans to build a strip mall practically in its members back yards -- promises to be extremely rough on Giza, a Democrat.

The group and its supporters contend that Giza is trading away the last of Lancaster's pastoral heritage to build "big box" strip malls that cause traffic congestion and other problems while adding only a few minimum-wage jobs.

"We will do whatever is necessary to win this election," said George Ciancio, the group's leader.

Giza dismisses the anti-sprawl group as "NIMBYs" and thinks the group doesn't know what it's talking about.

Lancaster does not have too many strip malls. And Western New York, he says, doesn't have a sprawl problem.

"No, I don't think so," he said when asked about the issue. "I think we have to encourage any kind of development we can. We have to have jobs, try to keep our families together, our children here. But it's all so out of whack now, I don't know if they can turn it around."

Lackawanna mayoral fight

In Lackawanna, Mayor Kathleen M. Staniszewski is fighting back after being narrowly defeated in the primary by John J. Kuryak, a 29-year-old former appointee in her administration.

The mayor is on the November ballot's Conservative Party line. Both expect a general election even more bruising than the primary. In fact, the mayor is ready to contact the district attorney's office with allegations that Kuryak supporters went into the booth with primary voters.

He denies the allegation.

Kenmore battleground

Kenmore, the county's oldest GOP stronghold, is facing its most serious threat ever from the Democratic Party after moving the village election to November from March.

Registered Democrats have a slight edge in Kenmore, but Republicans consistently win mayoral and Village Board elections. Democrats usually do better in November elections, so village Democrats hope for an edge.

"Democrats generally lose so badly in March. So what can be worse?" said one insider.

Mayor John W. Beaumont, who is seeking a fourth-term, says he's not worried. The first two lines on the November ballot have Giambra's name on them, he says.

"That might be a boost," he said.

Beaumont faces Jill Monacelli on the Democratic side. In other races, incumbents William Crowe and Martin Scholl face Democratic challengers Thomas Jones and Katherine Bestine. Incumbent Karen A. Cammarata faces Patrick Mang for the two-year unexpired term created when former Trustee Amy Murphy joined the Town Board.

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