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Suburbs take spotlight in Thursday’s primary elections

With no major countywide races on tap for Thursday’s primary elections, and only two contests in the City of Buffalo, much of the action will be in the suburbs.

That’s where you’ll find heated contests for supervisor in Cheektowaga, Clarence, Marilla and West Seneca; competition for town board seats in Alden, Amherst, Brant, Grand Island, Holland and Lancaster; and jockeying by judicial candidates in Hamburg, Aurora, North Collins and the City of Tonawanda.

With write-in candidates not included, here’s your primer for Thursday’s primary:

Alden

Candidates Ronald L. Snyder and Collen M. Pautler face off in the Republican primary for an open seat on the Alden Town Board.

Amherst

Three Democrats are trying to win the party line for the two Town Board seats up for grabs in November.

Deborah Bruch Bucki and Francina J. Spoth received the endorsement of the town Democratic Committee in April, but Hadar Borden submitted enough petitions to force a primary despite an unsuccessful court challenge to bump her off the ballot.

Bucki, 62, is a former councilwoman and town clerk; Spoth, 51, served two terms on the Williamsville Board of Education; while Borden, 39, is an administrative director at the University at Buffalo running for her first public office.

All three have campaigned on the need to have a balanced approach to development in Amherst.

Also, two Republican candidates for the board – Tara A. Cadmus and Susan D. McClary – are vying for the Independence line against Richard L. Woll and Jonathan A. LaVell.

Aurora

Six primaries for Aurora town justice feature four lawyers vying for the four-year, part-time, $31,000-a-year position.

The candidates are Michael S. Deal, Gerald E. Paradise III, James F. Granville and Anthony DiFilippo IV.

They are looking to replace retiring Judge Douglas Marky.

Brant

Incumbent Councilmen Chad R. Kaczmarek and Donald L. Clark face a challenge from Janice C. Ross in a Republican primary for two, four-year seats that are open on the Town Board.

Also, Joseph N. Giambrone, the Republican highway superintendent, is being challenged by William S. Friend.

Cheektowaga

Opposing Democratic factions are slugging it out in three primaries in Cheektowaga, starting with the race for supervisor.

Councilwoman Diane M. Benczkowski is running for town supervisor against Town Clerk Alice Magierski, a contest triggered by the year-end retirement of two-term incumbent Supervisor Mary F. Holtz.

Benczkowski, 57, is a licensed broker associate with MJ Peterson who touts her 12 years serving on the Depew School Board. Benczkowski is the endorsed Democrat, but also has the backing of the Working Families and Conservative parties.

Magierski, 65, was appointed as a councilwoman in 2003 to fill an unexpired term, then won election to the Town Board that November. She was first elected town clerk in 2007.

Both have been campaigning on the bank foreclosure problem that has left hundreds of abandoned homes in Cheektowaga neighborhoods.

Besides the primary race for supervisor, there are seven Democratic candidates vying for three seats on the Town Board: Steven A. Specyal, Christine L. Adamczyk, Gerald P. Kaminski, Stanley J. Kaznowski III, Kenneth Young, Linda M. Hammer and Richard A. Zydel.

Adamczyk and Kaminski are the incumbents. Kaznowski, Hammer and Zydel gained Democratic endorsements.

Highway Superintendent Mark D. Wegner is facing a challenge from Jerzy Galazka.

Clarence

Incumbent David C. Hartzell Jr. forced a primary for town supervisor, after Republicans in Clarence decided to throw their endorsement behind Councilman Patrick Casilio, setting up one of the more interesting races of the season.

Hartzell, 58, a first-term supervisor, was voted into office in 2011 after campaigning on a pledge to control spending – a theme he has carried into the primary. Casilio, 58, chief executive of Casilio Companies, a group of real estate and construction companies, is in his third term as a councilman. Besides the Republican endorsement, Casilio received backing from the Conservative and Independence parties.

There are no other candidates waiting to pose a challenge in November.

Also, Republican Town Justice Robert G. Sillars is facing a challenge from Justin D. Kloss in Republican, Democratic, Conservative, Working Families and Independence primaries.

Eden

Independence Party members in the Town of Eden have a choice of voting for endorsed candidates or writing in names in Thursday’s primary election.

The party’s state committee endorsed Susan Wilhelm, a party member, and Michael Byrnes, a Conservative, for Town Board seats.

Town Clerk Mary Jo Hultquist, a Republican, also received the party’s nomination in her bid for re-election.

Voters may choose Byrnes and Wilhelm, write in a pair of names or vote for either of them and write in a name when they head to the polls Thursday. They also have the option of voting for Hultquist or writing in a name.

The Democratic candidates seeking re-election, Councilmen Francis McLaughlin and Edward Krycia, could receive write-in votes. Voters may also write in Debra Popple, the Democratic candidate for town clerk.

Grand Island

Voters in the Republican and Independence party primaries on Grand Island will select two candidates from a field of three for four-year terms on the Town Council. Challengers James T. Maloney and Michael H. Madigan and incumbent Gary G. Roesch are vying for the Republican line. Roesch, Madigan and Beverly A. Kinney are seeking the Independence line. Madigan previously ran for Congress in 2012 trying to unseat Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo.

Both candidates for town justice – incumbent Sybil E. Kennedy and Town Prosecutor Mark S. Nemeth – are seeking the Democratic, Republican, Conservative, Green and Independence party lines.

Hamburg

Four lawyers are running in six primaries – Republican, Democrat, Conservative, Green, Working Families and Independence parties – to see who will replace Town Justice Walter L. Rooth. It is expected the race will be decided during the general election.

The candidates are Frank Bogulski, who served in the Army military police and the National Guard; Blasdell Village Justice Daniel P. Grasso, who also served as acting Buffalo City Court judge; Carl W. Morgan, a former Lackawanna city police lieutenant who has served as deputy town attorney; and Town Attorney Walter L. Rooth III, a former assistant district attorney and son of the town justice.

The Democratic primary for Town Board pits incumbent Councilwoman Cheryl Potter-Juda, a retired Lackawanna teacher, against Thomas Best Jr., an M&T Bank officer who is a former Hamburg police officer and current Frontier School Board member.

Holland

Incumbent board members Karen L. Kline and William D. Kolacki are being challenged in a Republican primary by Gregory L. Gonter for the two open seats on the Town Board.

Lackawanna

Fourth Ward Councilman Keith E. Lewis is running for Council president against Charles Jaworski in a Democratic primary. In turn, Jeffrey P. DePasquale and Charles D. Kowalski square off in the Democratic primary for Fourth Ward councilman.

Lancaster

Candidates for the Town Board and the town clerk are vying for minor party lines. Russell W. Sugg, Joseph M. Brainard and Dawn C. Gaczewski compete for two open seats on the Town Board in the Conservative primary. Brainard, Sugg and David Herbeck are also on the ballot in the Independence primary.

Meanwhile, town clerk candidates Lindsay B. Weisenburg and Michael J. Vreeland are locked in an Independence primary.

Marilla

Supervisor Earl A. Gingerich Jr. faces a Republican primary against challenger George J. Gertz, who was endorsed by the Democrats.

Meanwhile, three candidates – incumbent Warren K. Handley, Randy R. Reichert and Brian W. Nolan Sr. – are seeking two open seats on the Town Board in the Republican primary.

North Collins

Voters will see primaries for councilmember, town clerk, town justice and highway superintendent.

Incumbent John M. Stevens, outgoing Supervisor Rosaline A. Seege and Councilwoman Karen A. Ricotta face each other in Republican and Democratic primaries for two town justice seats.

Incumbent Ellen M. Mathis, James M. Lint and Marie E. Schmitz are fighting for two, four-year seats on the Town Board in a Democratic primary. Brendan R. Orrange and Lynn Maciejewski are locked in a Democratic primary for town clerk. And incumbent Highway Superintendent David J. Winter faces challenger Philippe Antoine Tremblay in a Republican primary.

City of Tonawanda

It’s been nearly two decades since there’s been a wide-open race for chief judge of Tonawanda City Court, and the race this year is believed to already be the most expensive for any elected office in city history.

Thursday’s primary is being described as a free-for-all among the three men running for a 10-year term to succeed Judge Joseph J. Cassata who, according to state law, must retire because he turns 70 this year.

Mark A. Doane, Mark E. Saltarelli and G. Michael Drmacich are all vying for the Democratic, Republican, Conservative and Independence party lines in November.

Doane, an attorney with a general-practice law firm on Main Street, is the endorsed Democrat.

Saltarelli, also in private practice on Delaware Street, is the endorsed Republican, while Drmacich is an Erie County assistant district attorney.

Doane and Saltarelli are also seeking the Working Families line.

Cassata has been the cross-endorsed pick for 19 years in the position that pays $145,000 annually.

Combined, the three candidates have raised nearly $61,000, far more than the amount raised in any race in recent memory, veteran city political insiders said.

West Seneca

The race for West Seneca supervisor may be over when the votes are counted Thursday.

Supervisor Sheila M. Meegan, 55, faces a Democratic primary against former Town Board member and Erie County legislator Christina Wleklinski Bove, 68.

There is no Republican candidate in the overwhelmingly Democratic town, and Meegan has the Conservative, Working Families and Independence lines in the November election.

Bove must win the primary to advance to the general election.

The two other Democratic primaries are for councilmember, between incumbent Eugene P. Hart Jr. and challenger David M. Monolopolus, and for highway superintendent between incumbent Matthew D. English and challenger Tommy Reese.

Barbara O’Brien and Joseph Popiolkowski contributed to this report. email: jrey@buffnews.com