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North Collins supervisor running for town justice in Thursday’s primary

Voters will see the town supervisor running for town justice and a Town Board member seeking re-election without her party’s endorsement on the primary election ballot in the Town of North Collins.

Democratic voters may select a candidate for town clerk, a pair of Town Board hopefuls and a duo of town justice candidates Thursday. Republican voters may choose their highway superintendent candidate and both justices.

In the judicial race, Justice John Stevens and Councilwoman Karen Ricotta garnered the Republican and Democratic parties’ endorsements. Supervisor Rosaline Seege is challenging them in both primaries.

The candidates are vying for Stevens’ seat and the post vacated by Justice Ward Weiser, who died in January after spending 21 years as a town judge.

All three are Republicans. Candidates often seek both major parties’ lines in North Collins.

Seege did not return multiple voice-mail messages or an email message, but the Republican Party’s town committee chairwoman, Ann Moritz, offered an explanation for why she did not seek a second four-year term.

“She was encouraged by her peers not to run for supervisor,” she said. “Surprisingly, at the last minute, she has decided to run for judge.”

Moritz praised Stevens and Ricotta for their public service. Stevens has served nearly 20 years as a town justice and Ricotta has spent almost four years on the Town Board.

The chairwoman lauded Stevens for handling a larger workload since losing Weiser.

“He’s been carrying a full caseload of two judges for quite a few months now,” she said.

A retired state prison corrections officer, Ricotta supervised other corrections officers for 18 of her 26 years in the system and conducted hearings involving officers and inmates. To prepare for the judicial election, she has observed Stevens’ court and other courts.

Moritz also cited Ricotta’s willingness to consider all possibilities before reaching a conclusion.

“She sits down and listens to everything before making a decision,” she said. “She is not one to jump at anything. She is not a reactive person.”

For the Town Board, three Democrats seek a pair of seats. The party endorsed James Lint and Marie Schmitz and refused to nominate Councilwoman Ellen Mathis.

Those candidates are competing for the party’s lines to run for Mathis’ and Ricotta’s positions.

The party’s town committee members chose Lint, a retired Air Force veteran, and Schmitz, who teaches mathematics at Erie Community College, over Mathis because they believe she has underperformed as a Town Board member.

“She’s been a councilwoman two years and hasn’t really done anything at all,” said David Winter, the party’s town committee chairman.

Mathis could not be reached to comment.

Since retiring as a heating, ventilation and air conditioning technician, Lint has led an effort to create a veterans’ site on Gowanda State Road in the town.

“He’s spearheading the whole project,” Winter said.

In another Democratic primary, Brendan Orrange, the endorsed candidate, will take on Lynn Maciejewski for town clerk.

They each hope to replace Orrange’s mother, Margaret Orrange, who will retire from the position at the year’s end after 36 years.

“I’m going to miss it because it’s my life,” she said.

Brendan Orrange, who sits on the town Zoning Board of Appeals, spent four years as the party’s town chairman but has never run for an office.

His challenger serves as the Village of North Collins clerk and ran for town clerk four years ago. Republican voters will find a contest for highway superintendent as the endorsed incumbent, Winter, faces opposition from Phil Tremblay.

Winter carries the Democratic, Independence and Conservative parties’ lines. He hopes to secure the Republican line to ensure a third four-year term.

He emphasized he has not requested pay increases or raised his budget. In addition, he remains on good terms with the Erie County government.

“I’ve got a real good working relationship with the county,” he said.

His opponent, a former Marine, serves as the town and village building inspector, a part-time North Collins police officer and a North Collins Emergency Squad member. Tremblay also raises horses and beef cows on his farm.

When he submitted his application, the committee had already nominated Winter. He hopes voters desire a new face.

“I think the town is ready for a change,” he said.