The most anticipated endorsement from the Town of Tonawanda Democratic Committee was who would be the anointed successor to popular outgoing Supervisor Anthony F. Caruana, after Caruana announced in late April he would not seek a third term.
The speculation ended Saturday when the nod went to Councilman Joseph H. Emminger, in his third term on the all-Democratic Town Board.
Emminger and committee Chairman John J. Crangle Jr. were quick to associate the councilman with Caruana, and point to Emminger’s 7½ years as deputy supervisor.
“Joe’s leadership and experience on the Town Board will be a great asset to this community,” Crangle said Sunday. “Joe is like Tony Caruana, he always puts the community first and the residents first.”
“We’re going to continue the work that Supervisor Caruana and Lisa, John, Danny and I have done over the past eight years,” Emminger said, referring to the Town Board’s five members. “We’ve accomplished a lot and want to keep that momentum going. We have a lot of development and redevelopment occurring in the town.”
It’s early, but Emminger said his platform would center on continuing development of the North Youngmann Commerce Center and the waterfront along River Road, along with redevelopment of key commercial strips, including Sheridan Drive, Delaware Avenue and Niagara Falls Boulevard.
“Those are things we’re going to focus on,” said Emminger, 55, president of real estate appraisal firm Emminger, Newton, Pigeon & Magyar.
Emminger won the endorsement with “a clear majority” of the party’s 170 committeemen over Kenmore Mayor Patrick Mang at a meeting Saturday, Crangle said. The chairman said he doesn’t anticipate a contested primary for any of the endorsed candidates, though political watchers in the town say Mang hasn’t ruled out a primary challenge.
“I would hope that we would unite behind one candidate, the endorsed candidate,” Emminger said. “If there is a primary, I’ll be ready to run on my record.”
Mang did not immediately return a call for comment.
The Democrats backed a slate of other familiar names for November’s local elections, as the party looks to maintain its lock on town government. Also endorsed were incumbent Daniel J. Crangle, the party chairman’s brother, for a fourth full term on the Town Board, J. Mark Gruber for Town Justice and Marguerite Greco for a second term as Town Clerk.
The town’s Republican Committee has endorsed Damon D. Piatek for supervisor, William R. Naab for Town Board and Gruber for Town Justice. The Republicans have not named a Town Clerk candidate.