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Updegrove heads field of Niagara County manager candidates

LOCKPORT – Richard E. Updegrove, who stepped down as Niagara County Legislature majority leader at the end of 2015, is one of seven candidates for county manager whose names were disclosed Friday.

Legislator John Syracuse, R-Newfane, the chairman of the search committee, said there are 10 candidates, but so far three have declined to have their identities disclosed. They won’t be able to keep their interest secret for long, as the committee is to meet Monday to decide which of the 10 to interview.

Syracuse said three other candidates already have been rejected, two for not meeting the required educational qualifications and one because his résumé was postmarked after Wednesday’s application deadline.

The current manager, Jeffrey M. Glatz, is stepping down as of March 31, after serving more than five years in the post. The county advertised the job at a salary of $115,000 to $130,000 a year with a four-year term.

The other candidates whose names were released Friday include Daniel J. Ward, former Amherst town supervisor, who lost out on the manager job won by Glatz in 2010; Ashok K. Kapoor of East Amherst, former Niagara Falls city engineer and Olean public works director; and Lisa M. Chester of Niagara Falls, director of the Niagara County Health Department’s programs for children with special needs.

Also on the list are John J. DiPasquale of Williamsville, who was senior city management adviser for the U.S. State Department in Baghdad from 2008 to 2010, and assistant to the manager of Forsyth County, Ga., from 2004 to 2007; Kim A. Park, Wayne County administrator from 2003 to 2005 and town supervisor in Wolcott, as well as a member of the Wayne County Board of Supervisors from 2006 to 2015; and A. Ruben Fuentes of Lewiston, a private-sector human relations specialist, who most recently worked for BPZ Resources in Houston, Texas.

Updegrove, a Town of Lockport Republican who served 12 years in the Legislature, was majority leader from 2007 to 2015. He is a partner in the Buffalo law firm of Spadafora & Verrastro.

He said, “It would be a difficult decision” to leave the law practice. “I would have to give up the partnership and equity interest in the firm.”

Updegrove added, “There’s been interest in having me take on that (county manager) role since 2007, but I haven’t had any interest … It was difficult to find time to serve as a legislator and manage the practice.”

But he said his legislative experience gives him the perspective to manage the county’s future financial challenges, which he said include a low tax cap because of low inflation rates, combined with increasing contractual expenses and a decreasing Canadian dollar, which figures to hurt the county’s sales tax receipts if shoppers no longer cross the border to shop in Niagara County.

“This is an opportunity – although I’d rather that it came further down the road – that might not come around again,” Updegrove said.

Syracuse said, “I would hope to conclude the interview process by Feb. 24.”

He said the eight-member search committee will forward as many as five names to the Legislature’s Administration Committee, which will choose one for a vote by the full Legislature sometime in March.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com