Cheektowaga's underdog slate of Republican Town Board candidates is campaigning on the need for a change in town government, while the Democratic incumbents are reminding constituents of their record.
But as Cheektowaga voters go to the polls Nov. 4 to elect four Town Board members, few issues have emerged to give taxpayers a sense of who the candidates are.
So The Buffalo News asked the eight Town Board candidates their opinions about a few town issues: crime; traffic, a common complaint in Cheektowaga; efforts to rehabilitate older town neighborhoods; the need for a property revaluation, which hasn't been done since 1986; unsuccessful efforts to build a golf course; and how Cheektowaga is affected by suburban sprawl, the issue of growing suburbs draining Buffalo and inner-ring suburbs of people and jobs.
Here's a thumbnail sketch of the candidates and where they stand on some of the issues:
Republican candidate L. Charles Hintermeier: retired sales manager for an electronics company, first time running for political office -- believes crime is a concern in certain parts of town. . . Moving Williamsville Toll Barrier toward Lancaster would help "suck traffic right out of Cheektowaga." . . . No need for revaluation. Make businesses contribute more by giving fewer tax breaks . . . Fully supports town's neighborhood rehabilitation efforts. . . . Isn't sure how Cheektowaga should address suburban sprawl.
Democratic Incumbent James J. Jankowiak: running for two-year unexpired term, Erie County's commissioner of parks and recreation -- Cheektowaga, as a whole, has done a good job at addressing crime issues. . . . Must continue neighborhood preservation program and dialogue with Buffalo. . . . Property revaluation is a serious issue, but town needs to take a hard look at the impacts before jumping into it. . . . Private developer should develop town land designated for golf course, but it has to be a good deal for the town. . . . Doesn't have any answers to suburban sprawl, but agrees it's a dangerous situation all the county's towns need to address.
Democratic Incumbent Patricia A. Jaworowicz: county Legislature assistant and current deputy town supervisor, running for fifth four-year term on the board -- feels crime is under control in Cheektowaga. . . . Traffic along William Street-Losson Road is a major, regional concern. . . . Key figure behind program to rehabilitate Cheektowaga neighborhoods. Vows to continue efforts as long as she is in office. . . . Town needs to somehow spread the tax burden, without overburdening taxpayers. . . . Town needs to be more aggressive in finding a private developer to build golf course in town.
Republican Diana M. Koczon-Seifert: running for two-year, unexpired term, pledges to be a full-time Town Board member -- crime hasn't been a concern for residents she has talked to . . . traffic is major problem. Officials need to focus more on solutions. . . . Continued neighborhood preservation efforts along city-town border are necessity to keep people in Cheektowaga. . . . Not in favor of a property revaluation. . . .Cheektowaga should have a golf course, as long as it's built with private dollars, not taxpayer money. . . . Agrees something needs to be done about suburban sprawl.
Democrat Thomas J. Mazur: county legislator from 1988 to 1993, coordinator of administration at Erie Community College -- police doing excellent job, but need more presence in neighborhoods. . . . Wants to work closely with neighborhood preservation efforts if elected. . . Revaluation is very tender issue. Would have to ease into a program and freeze taxes if revaluation is conducted. . . . Favors a golf course as long as it generates town revenues and doesn't financially burden taxpayers. . . . If neighborhoods are kept safe and pleasing, people will stay in the community.
Democratic Incumbent William P. Rogowski: West Seneca West High School teacher, Town Board member since 1980 -- Crime rate is down. Sees police doing the job to keep it under control. Initiated summer park ranger program. . . . Traffic is major problem, particularly along William Street. Needs to be addressed as regional issue. . . . There's evidence neighborhood revitalization efforts are working. Should be continued. . . . Revaluation is hot topic, but needs to be addressed. Taxpayers need to be educated about process. . . . Still optimistic Cheektowaga can find a private developer to build golf course in town.
Republican candidate Lynn M. Ratke-Bischoff, first time running for political office, working toward a master's degree in journalism -- crime is an issue depending on where you live in town. . . . Traffic is a concern in any large municipality. . . . Supportive of Cheektowaga's neighborhood preservation efforts. . . . Doesn't know what should be done about property revaluation. . . . Suburban sprawl not an issue. People are going to leave Cheektowaga if they want.
Republican candidate Kevin J. Wodarczak: first time running for office, supervisor at Brink's -- crime is an issue along city line. More police presence at police substation on Genesee Street may help. . . . Better synchronization of signals may help with traffic problems. . . . Applauds town's neighborhood preservation efforts. . . . May be the right time to look at revaluation. . . . A lot of money spent toward obtaining golf course, but nothing done. Wants to take a close look at that issue if elected. . . . Suburban sprawl a definite concern for town.