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City of Tonawanda councilor will resign seat to take full-time city job

Mayor Rick Davis announced Tuesday his administrative assistant Charles Rech would be leaving the job Friday, and he would appoint First Ward Councilman Charles Gilbert to take over the $55,000-a-year job.

Gilbert, who ran unopposed for a fifth two-year term in November, said he will resign his Council seat Friday to take the position. He is one of two Republicans on the Council.

The Democratic majority on the board will appoint Gilbert's successor. Whoever is appointed will have to run for election to the two-year term in November.

Davis said when he became mayor he appointed Rech on a "temporary basis," which stretched into four years. Rech, who has a master's degree in planning, was instrumental in helping the mayor with the waterfront development plan and comprehensive plan.

He will remain with the city on a part-time basis as a member of the newly formed local development corporation.

Davis, a Democrat, said he and Gilbert have been friends despite being on the opposite ends of the political spectrum.

"Chuck and I share the same goals and ideas. We've put party politics aside and have done what's best for the city," said Davis. He said Gilbert will be taking on some human resources duties.

Gilbert, a self-employed electrical contractor, said he volunteered for the job when he learned Rech was leaving.

Council President Jenna Koch said Council members will have discussions to find a representative for the First Ward.

Gilbert was one of a number of new appointments.

Last month, S. Michael Rua, the former deputy attorney, was named city attorney. He also will have to run in November to retain the seat. Rua replaced longtime city attorney Ronald Trabucco.

Also Tuesday, James P. Kossow was appointed city clerk, by a 4-1 vote of the Council, to a two-year term. He will step into his new role March 9, replacing City Clerk Gayle Syposs.

Kossow is a longtime member of the city's Democratic Party and served on the City Council for 10 years.

Republican Third Ward Councilman Michael Young, the lone dissenting vote, said after the meeting he felt other candidates were better suited than Kossow for the job.

Kossow, 58, told The Buffalo News he plans to leave his job as a bank auditor to take on the city role, which pays $60,000 per year.

"When I was on the Council I took great pride in serving the city," said Kossow. "I think my background will contribute to the clerk's position."

Resident Lynn Casal spoke out against the city clerk salary. She said an average salary of $37,500 would better suit this job in a small city where residents are struggling and some can't buy food or medications.

"I think we really need to look at ways to save money and paying a city clerk $60,000 to start is not the way to do it," Casal said.

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