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New board elected to SPCA of Niagara Outgoing president bemoans low turnout

Fifteen new board members were elected Tuesday night by members of the SPCA of Niagara.

The new board will hold its first meeting Tuesday. All of the former board members, who agreed to resign in the wake of a scandal over how animals were treated at the shelter, were replaced.

The five highest vote-getters, who won three-year terms, included AnnLouise Carosella, a volunteer at the shelter; David Urban, an accountant; Brian Barish, owner of a dog obedience school; Michelle Madigan, a shelter volunteer and controller for an employment agency; and Pamela Bruns, an SPCA foster parent.

The next five candidates, who won two-year terms, were Stephanie Ortel, a veterinary technician; Bob Richardson, a State Supreme Court law clerk; David Bower, a Niagara Falls police officer; Lawrence Eggert, Lockport police chief; and Andrew Bell, owner of a pet supply store.

The candidates who finished in positions 11 through 15 won one-year terms. They were Rachel Stepian, an Air Force member; Kristen Strobel, an SPCA volunteer; Susan Persico, a veterinarian; Kathy Lamont, a former teacher; and Karen Karsten, board chairwoman for the Seneca Gaming Corp.

Amy Lewis, interim executive director of the SPCA, said 120 of the SPCA's 368 members cast votes in Tuesday's election.

The ballots were mailed to SPCA members last week. They were given a one-hour period to drop off the ballots at the Shawnee Fire Company on Tuesday night.

Bruno "Brandy" Scrufari III, president of the outgoing board, said he was disappointed by the low turnout.

Some voters complained about the rules, especially the requirement that every ballot had to have exactly 15 of the 24 candidates selected.

Gloria Bryant, of Lockport, said it was "a poor process. Insisting you must vote for 15 and your vote is invalid if you vote for 14 is unfair."

Scrufari said the rule was adopted to make sure the new board would have a full complement of 15 members. The outgoing board was plagued by vacancies.

Scrufari said, "In theory you could have a vote where the majority of people would vote for seven or eight candidates and you wouldn't have a full board."

He said the new board will elect its officers at next week's meeting, the time and place for which have not been determined.

Scrufari also said the new board is expected to submit new bylaws for a subsequent vote by the general membership.

The new bylaws were written by Buffalo attorney Paul J. Cambria Jr., who advised the board on steps it needed to take toward reform.

Lewis said she would like to be considered for an appointment as permanent executive director.

"I would like to stick around," she said.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com