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Trustee to resign for duty in Afghanistan

East Aurora Trustee Keith Bender, first elected to political office in 2006, will likely resign his board post this fall when he is deployed to Afghanistan.

Bender, 28, is a U.S. Army Reserve officer who will leave in September for an assignment as part of a transition team training an Afghan infantry unit to do field medical work. His deployment is expected to last for a little more than a year.

"I'll probably have to end up having to resign," Bender said in an interview, acknowledging that his trustee term would be up for election next March. Newly elected trustees take office in April.

Given that likely scenario, the several-month vacancy in Bender's post would fall to a mayoral appointment. Mayor David DiPietro said he was leaning toward making an appointment for Bender's seat on the seven-member board until the village's March elections occur.

"Trustee Bender could ask for a leave of absence, but he'll be gone for 14 to 18 months," DiPietro said. "If it was in January, I'd leave the seat open until the election. But with September, that could leave a six- to eight-month window."

Bender said he will serve on the board until he is actually deployed. Since he was elected in March 2006, he has served as a liaison to the village's Safety Committee and all village emergency services, and is a former liaison to the village's Tree Committee.

Bender, a commanding officer with the Army's 865th Combat Support Hospital Headquarters Company, said he has enjoyed serving on the Village Board and might consider running again when he returns home. "I wouldn't rule that out," he said. "We're preserving East Aurora's quality of life and making good, smart-growth progress."

e-mail: krobinson@buffnews.com

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