Dr. Todd Shatkin, a young dentist running for the Amherst Town Board on the Democratic line, didn't vote in a town election until last year, Republican Council Member Jane S. Woodward charged Monday.
Shatkin acknowledged the charge, but said Mrs. Woodward's voting record on development is much more important to voters than his voting record as a private citizen.
"She has voted for virtually every rezoning that came before her during her seven years on the Town Board and nine years on the Planning Board," Shatkin charged.
Mrs. Woodward and her Republican running mates for years have been heavily financed by development interests, he said.
Shatkin, 32, didn't vote in a town election "until he decided to run for office in 1996," Mrs. Woodward said in a campaign statement. "Even then, he had to register on Election Day."
Shatkin denied both claims. He said he wasn't approached to run for town office until May by Amherst Democratic Supervisor Susan J. Grelick.
He added that people can't register to vote on Election Day unless it's a new registration, and he had voted in 1988, 1992 and 1994, which weren't town election years.
A copy of an affidavit that Mrs. Woodward attached to her campaign statement "is clearly marked" as a change-of-address document, not a registration, he said.
Mrs. Woodward said, "When he voted in 1996, he had to sign an affidavit swearing to his voting record. Sadly, he said he last voted in 1992. However, the Board of Elections has no record of him voting that year, or any previous year in the 1990s."
Shatkin said he believes he voted in 1992 but was mistaken when he wrote that year as the last time he voted while filling out the change-of-address form last year. Shatkin said he voted in 1994 and showed copies of Board of Elections records to prove it.
Shatkin explained that he hadn't voted in a town election until a special election last year because, "As a young person, I didn't realize how important town politics are."
Then, he said, he got involved in developments proposed in his neighborhood and discovered "a lot of things (about town government) that bother me."
"I wonder how Jane Woodward's voting record at the local level looked when she was in her 20s and early 30s," he added.
Town Board members "are called upon at least twice a month to vote on important issues facing our community," Mrs. Woodward said. "But Dr. Shatkin can't bother to vote once a year. Will he be too busy or care enough to do his homework as a Town Board member?"
Shatkin countered that Mrs. Woodward should "drop the bogus issues and personal attacks, and direct her attention to explaining her own voting record."