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Darch likely to get nod for seat

A vacant seat on Lackawanna's City Council could be filled at the Council's next meeting on Monday.

The 2nd Ward seat has been empty since former Councilman Geoffrey M. Szymanski was sworn in as mayor Jan. 1. The remaining councilmen have been split over who should serve Szymanski's term until the end of the year.

But Council President Henry R. Pirowski said that Rebecca L. Darch, 25, a supervisor at a Buffalo nonprofit agency, will get the nod over Annette Iafallo, clerk for the city school board.

Pirowski said he now has the three votes necessary to get Darch appointed.

"I'm fully confident we're going to be able to get Rebecca Darch appointed on Monday," he said in a phone interview. "I thoroughly believe Rebecca is the best candidate."

Both Iafallo, 60, and Darch were recommended for the job by the 2nd Ward Democratic Committee. Council newcomers Pirowski and Keith E. Lewis, who represents the 4th Ward, voted in favor of Darch in January, while 1st Ward Councilman Abdul Noman favored Iafallo.

Third Ward Councilman Francis J. Kulczyk, who was ill, did not attend the meeting, and with just three members present a unanimous vote was required for an appointment.

The council hasn't addressed the issue since then, proceeding for months with four voting members instead of five.

Meanwhile, residents of the 2nd Ward have expressed growing frustration that their voice was not being represented on the Council.

In an effort the break the stalemate, the Lackawanna Democratic Committee went back to the drawing board last week and recommended a compromise candidate -- Thomas Burke, 64, who has been involved in Democratic politics for years as a 2nd Ward committee member.

Burke recently retired from the Lackawanna Municipal Housing Authority, where he was serving as temporary assistant director.

Whoever is appointed will serve in the 2nd Ward seat until the end of the year. An election in November will determine who takes the post on Jan. 1, 2013.

Kulczyk appeared to be the swing vote, but this week he said he hasn't made up his mind and wasn't contacted by other members of the Council to vote for Darch.

Kulczyk said he supported Burke as a compromise candidate, because Burke was the choice of the committee and the 2nd Ward was overdue for a council member.

Burke said he won't be a candidate in the election, while Darch and Iafallo have previously said they will run.

The 2nd Ward Democratic Committee, in a 7-3 vote, also endorsed Iafallo over Darch in the September primary election for the seat. A Democratic committee endorsement often carries significant weight in Lackawanna, which is heavily populated by registered Democrats.

Iafallo is a former mayoral candidate and former member of the Lackawanna City School Board. She was appointed school board clerk in 2008 and has said she would continue in that post if she became 2nd Ward councilwoman.

Darch is supervisor of family and county services with Heritage Centers, a nonprofit agency that serves people with developmental disabilities.

Diane M. Kozak, a retired federal employee and former school board member, also has announced her candidacy.

Kozak was seeking the Independence Party and Republican Party endorsements.