Voters in the City and Town of Lockport will have three closely contested Niagara County Legislature races to decide Tuesday, as the 15th, 16th and 17th districts all are providing spirited competition.
In the 15th District, comprising the western half of the city and some small adjacent parts of the town, incumbent Democrat Harry J. Apolito of Woodbury Drive is facing Anthony Nemi, assistant city youth and recreation director of South New York Street, the Republican nominee, who is a member of the Independence Party.
In the 16th District, the eastern half of the city and some nearby parts of the town, two former School Board members are squaring off: incumbent Republican W. Keith McNall of Willow Street and Democrat Beverly P. McDonough of Lakeview Parkway.
And in the 17th District, which covers most of the town, Majority Leader Richard E. Updegrove of Day Road, a Republican, faces Charles F. Dahlquist of Akron Road, a registered Republican running with Democratic backing.
Apolito, 60, who retired in August after 14 years as a city building inspector, also stepped down recently after 24 years at the helm of the An-Jo Baseball League. He is married with two sons and three grandchildren.
"I'm experienced, and I have reached a level of competency. I have the drive to do the job to the best of my ability," said Apolito, who is finishing his third term.
Nemi, 53, is a divorced father of two.
"I think I can bring some new ideas to what I think is a kind of status-quo situation," he said. He said in his 19 years in the city youth department, he's written many letters of recommendation for youngsters who have been involved in city recreational programs.
"The reference letters are for North Carolina, Tennessee, even Australia. They're not for Western New York anymore," Nemi said. He said there needs to be tax relief, especially on the city's water supply line from the Niagara River.
"Being that I'm backed by the majority caucus, I can bring more benefits to the City of Lockport," Nemi said. "They're butting heads with [Apolito]."
Apolito said he has tried repeatedly to win tax relief on the water line. He said Nemi should be aware that former GOP Legislator Glenn Aronow tried to win support for it, too.
"He couldn't get anything done, either," Apolito said.
Apolito chuckled that Nemi is criticizing him for high taxes. "Well, guess what? The Republican-controlled Legislature had the ability to reduce [the 2007 tax increase] to zero but voted it down when the minority caucus introduced it. This is the Republican-controlled Legislature that he's complaining about and he wants to join," Apolito said.
McNall ran for the 16th District seat two years ago as the Democratic nominee, even though he is a registered Republican, and lost to Aronow. When Aronow resigned late in 2006, the majority caucus appointed McNall, who spent 18 years on the Board of Education, six of them as president.
"They've had a year now to see what I've done," said McNall, 61, of Willow Street, who is married and has a son and a grandson. He tried to win a low-cost power allocation for Lockport Memorial Hospital and called for the redevelopment of the Duissault Foundry site and demolition of the county-owned Flintkote site.
McDonough, 58, served five years on the School Board. She is 58, married, with three children, nine grandchildren and three stepgrandchildren. She is vice president of communications for the YWCA of Niagara.
She blasted the tax break the county Industrial Development Agency gave to AES Corp.
"Why aren't we concentrating on making the business climate better for small business instead of corporate welfare for multibillion-dollar corporations?" she asked. "I will stand up and work on behalf of people. I will bring up uncomfortable issues and force a conversation about them."
As for AES, McNall said, "It's about jobs, and in my opinion, a vote against AES is a vote against jobs."
Updegrove, 41 and single, is an attorney for the Buffalo personal injury firm of Spadafora & Verrastro. Dahlquist, 67, a self-employed auto mechanic for 45 years, is married with two sons and a grandson.
Dahlquist also denounced the AES deal and also called for selling the county golf course. "Tourism and everything is fine, but you've got to have some light manufacturing," he said. Dahlquist also called for cutting the sales tax from 8 percent to 7 percent. "That would draw more business here," he said.
Updegrove, in his first year as majority leader, said, "We have implemented real reform in county government, replacing patronage department heads with professionals from the private sector. That has led to long-term planning. We have stabilized county finances."
Coming Friday: Races in Cambria and the Town of Niagara, as well as on the Niagara Falls Council.