The spotlight will be on Amherst in Erie County's suburban races in Tuesday's election.
Democrats are pinning their hopes on incumbent Supervisor Susan J. Grelick. If she wins by a large margin, chances are good that Democrats will gain their first-ever majority on the Town Board. Her challenger is Republican Council Member William L. Kindel.
Elsewhere, four Town Board seats are up for grabs in Cheektowaga, Kenmore voters will decide whether to move village elections from March to November, and in Hamburg, two restaurateurs are battling for the supervisor's seat.
Alden The only contested race pits appointed Town Justice Kathleen P. O'Connor-Esack, on the Democratic, Republican, Right to Life and Independent lines, against Dennis J. Garry, on the Conservative and Liberal lines, for the two-year unexpired term of Evelyn E. Sivecz, who stepped down earlier this year.
Amherst Control of government in the county's largest town is on the line in historically Republican Amherst, where a win by two of the four Democrats running would give the party its first-ever majority on the Town Board.
Meanwhile, the GOP needs wins by three of its four candidates to keep its 4-3 majority on the board -- the same challenge it faced in 1993, when all four Republicans won.
On the ballot Nov. 4 are the office of supervisor, held by a Democrat, and three Town Board seats, all held by Republicans. The board's fourth Republican is running for supervisor, while the other two seats are held by midterm Democrats.
Democratic Supervisor Susan J. Grelick faces Republican William L. Kindel, a midterm board member, for the town's top office.
The board race pits a GOP slate featuring incumbents Jane S. Woodward and James P. Hayes, plus Amherst Conservative Party Chairman Robert C. Simmons, against Democratic challengers Daniel J. Ward, a former town supervisor; Town Clerk Daniel A. Longo and Dr. Todd E. Shatkin.
Maverick Republican board member Thomas A. Loughran, who challenged the endorsed GOP slate in last month's primary and lost, remains in the race as the Independence Party candidate.
To win control of the board for the first time in the town's history, political leaders believe the Democrats' best chance is for Ms. Grelick to beat Kindel, and for at least one of the Town Board candidates -- most likely Ward -- to finish in the top three. A Grelick defeat, on the other hand, will probably make it harder for one, much less two, of her running mates to capture board seats, these leaders say.
In the only other race, Republican Susan K. Jaros, the incumbent tax receiver, is running for town clerk against Damon H. Serota, former town Democratic chairman.
Aurora Vying for two Town Board seats in a three-way race are two incumbents, Norman K. Suttell, who has Democratic, Republican, Conservative, Independence and Freedom lines, and Millard A. Irving, endorsed by Republican, Conservative, Independence and Freedom parties, and challenger Phoebe M. Nicely, the endorsed Democrat.
Former Village Justice George M. Hezel, who agreed to consolidating village and town courts -- eliminating his job -- won Democratic, Republican and Independence endorsements and will run against Kevin D. Walsh, the sitting town justice, who has the Conservative and Freedom lines. This is the first time in years that there has been a judicial race in the town.
Boston Two current councilmen are competing to succeed longtime Supervisor Richard L. Kennedy, who declined to run for another four-year term. They are businesswoman Lisa M. Rood, who has Republican and Freedom party backing, and Peter A. Walter, a retired Buffalo policeman running on the Democratic, Conservative and Independence lines. If Mrs. Rood wins, the new Town Board will have to appoint a successor for the remaining year of her term. If she loses, she remains on the board. If Walter loses, he is out because his current term expires.
Competing to fill two four-year councilman posts are Councilwoman Josephine M. Davenport, Democrat and Conservative; Richard A. Poore, who has Democratic, Conservative and Independence backing; Karl J. Simmeth Jr., Republican, Independence and Freedom; and Stephen K. Tills, Republican, Right to Life and Freedom. Vying for a four-year term to succeed Town Justice Robert Tills are Brian W. Downey, running on the Democratic, Conservative, Independence and Liberal lines, and Debra K. Bender, Republican, Right to Life and Freedom.
Brant Incumbent Councilmen Leah Mirusso, Republican, Conservative and Freedom, and Martin Rosiek, Republican, Conservative, Right to Life, Independence and Freedom, face a challenge from Democrat Sandra Hooge in a three-way race for two four-year terms.
Cheektowaga Although there is no supervisor's race in Cheektowaga this year, the all-Democratic Town Board has four of seven seats up for grabs.
Republican Diana M. Koczon-Seifert, who ran unsuccessfully in 1995, is challenging James J. Jankowiak, county commissioner of parks and recreation and former Democratic town chairman, for an unexpired two-year term. Jankowiak was appointed to the post last year after William L. Wielinski left to take the top job in the town's Facilities Department.
Six other candidates are vying for three four-year terms.
Seeking re-election are Democrats Patricia A. Jaworowicz and William P. Rogowski. Mrs. Jaworowicz, an Erie County legislative assistant, is running for her fifth consecutive four-year term; Rogowski, a teacher at West Seneca West High School, has been on the Town Board since 1980. Former Erie County Legislator Thomas J. Mazur rounds out the Democratic slate.
The other three Republican candidates are newcomers to politics. They are L. Charles Hintermeier, a retired sales manager for an electronics company, Kevin J. Wodarczak, a supervisor at Brink's, and Lynn M. Ratke-Bischoff, a mother of one with a background in journalism.
Clarence Democratic Supervisor Paul R. McCarthy, who suffered a heart attack last year, will try to trade his full-time job for the part-time duties of a Town Board member in the Nov. 4 election.
Eyeing promotion to McCarthy's seat are two longtime board members, Daniel M. Gregorio, a Democrat in office since 1982, and Daniel A. Herberger, a Republican board member since 1984.
GOP candidates for two board seats are veteran incumbent John F. Love and Ian R. McPherson, a former board member. McCarthy is the Democrats' lone candidate, but the newly organized Taxpayer Accountability Party is fielding two -- newcomers Bernard C. Gosset and Thomas J. Sauers.
Despite the town's heavy GOP enrollment edge, the makeup of the Clarence Town Board heading into the election is two Republicans, two Democrats and one independent.
Supervisor Marilynn J. Calhoun, a part-time Buffalo News employee running on Democratic, Conservative and Right to Life lines, is trying for her fourth term. She is opposed by Michael C. Bryndle, a retired General Motors employee with Republican, Independence and Freedom party backing. The candidates for the two four-year councilman seats are Marshall W. Hrycik, Democrat; Martin McMahon, Democratic, Conservative, Independence, Right to Life; Peter S. Frank, Republican and Freedom; and incumbent Richard W. Herniman, Republican, Conservative, Independence and Freedom. Competing to fill a one-year councilman vacancy are Anne M. Eschborn, Democrat, and Shirley L. Baker, Republican and Freedom.
Two incumbent councilmen, Donald H. Tew, Democratic and Preservation Independent Party, and Joseph H. Vogtli Jr., Republican, Conservative, Independence and Freedom, are competing for the two-year supervisor's office to be vacated by Vicki Cocca, who served one term. Competing for two four-year councilman seats are Beverly A. DeVore, Democratic and Preservation Independent Party; Mary A. Stelley, Democratic and Preservation Independent Party; Brian V. Carroll, Republican, Conservative and Freedom; and incumbent Kenneth E. Martin, Republican, Conservative and Freedom. Town Clerk Karen S. Wallschlaeger, Democratic and Preservation Independent Party, is being challenged for a four-year term by Becky Jo Summers, Republican, Conservative, Independence and Freedom.
Councilman Mark L. Steffan, Democratic and Conservative, a Springville restaurant operator, and Springville Mayor C. Murray Regan, Republican and Freedom, a teacher who will retire in January, are competing for the four-year term as supervisor. If Regan wins, he will give up the mayoral post to which he was elected in April after being appointed in 1996. If Steffan wins, he will leave his councilman office. The winner will succeed John E. Allen, who was appointed through Dec. 31 to succeed Richard F. Timm, who resigned.
Running for two councilman seats are Edmund C. Salzler Jr., Democratic and Conservative; Anthony L. Orsini Jr., Democratic, Conservative and Independence; incumbent James M. Krezmien, Republican, Freedom and Independence; and Pamela B. Zabawa, Republican and Freedom. Highway Superintendent Paul F. Salzler, Republican and Independence, who was appointed last summer after Phil Droz resigned, is trying to win the office for four years against the challenge of Democrat Reed B. Braman, also running on the Conservative line.
Supervisor John S. Tsakos, Republican, Conservative and Freedom, is trying for a second two-year term. He is opposed by Glenn R. Nellis, a vice president of Buffalo State College, running on the Democratic, Independence and Responsible Government Party lines. Competing for two four-year councilman terms that Gerald Neifer and Lynn Penfold are leaving are Mary Lou Pew, Democratic, Independence and Responsible Government Party; Edward Krycia Jr., Democratic, Conservative and Responsible Government Party; William L. Robison, Republican and Freedom; William M. Putney, Republican, Independence, Freedom and Senior Taxpayers Party; and Conservative Vincent V. Vacco.
Although no special issues have been articulated, Supervisor Audrey B. Murdoch, Republican, Conservative, Independence and Freedom, is facing a brisk challenge from Ronald T. Klos, Democratic, Right to Life and Taxpayers Rights Party, in her quest for her first full two-year term. Appointed in 1995 to succeed the late John DiJoseph, Ms. Murdoch last year won a one-year term.
In other contests, Councilman Bill Cirocco, Republican, Independence, Right to Life, Freedom; and Councilwoman Dona R. Reid, Democratic, Conservative, Taxpayer Rights Party; are competing for two four-year terms with Toni Dugas, Democratic, Independence, Conservative, Right to Life, Taxpayer Rights Party; and Republican Thomas J. Carlton.
Supervisor Robert R. Catalino II, with the Democratic, Conservative and Right to Life Party endorsements, said he is running for re-election on his performance over the past two years. He faces opposition from John D. Persinger, who won the Republican primary over endorsed candidate Ellen R. Pierino; and Ms. Pierino, who remains on the ballot on the Independence and Freedom party lines.
A four-way race for two four-year councilman terms pits incumbent Republican Mark R. Engler, also on Independence and Freedom party lines, and Thomas A. Csati on Republican, Freedom and Liberal lines, against Democrats Joseph F. Govenettio and Karen A. Erickson. They also have the Conservative and Right to Life lines, and Govenettio will appear on the Independence line.
Grand Island A three-way race for supervisor pits incumbent Republican James H. Pax, with Conservative and Freedom endorsements, against Democrat Peter A. McMahon and Independence candidate John H. Lexo.
Five candidates are competing for two seats on the all-Republican Town Board. Incumbents Mary Cooke and James Sharpe are seeking re-election. Mrs. Cooke will run on the GOP, Conservative and Freedom lines. Sharpe is running as an independent after losing in the GOP primary to newcomer Bruce A. Kaiser, the endorsed candidate, who also has the Freedom endorsement. Sharpe ran unsuccessfully as an independent against Pax for supervisor in 1995. Also seeking seats are Democrats Gail J. Lazenby, a former councilman who lost his seat by a few votes in 1995, and Michael E. Heftka, who also has Conservative and Independence lines.
Incumbent Highway Superintendent Norman J. Mrkall, Republican, Conservative and Freedom, faces Kenneth W. Carter, Democrat and Independence. Incumbent Town Justice Eric L. Reimann, Republican, Conservative and Freedom, faces Terrance C. Brennan, Democrat and Independence.
Hamburg Republicans are hoping to take over the supervisor's office and control of the all-Democratic Town Board in this year's election.
Supervisor Patrick H. Hoak, a 10-year member of the Town Board, is seeking his second term as supervisor in what some have dubbed the race of the restaurateurs. Hoak operates Hoak's Armor Inn, while his opponent, Louis J. Billittier, operates Chef's on Seneca Street. Hoak, a Democrat with Conservative, Independence and Right to Life party lines, is running on his record, stating economic and financial accomplishments. Republican Billittier also will appear on the Freedom Party line. A board member of numerous community organizations, he notes he is a business-minded leader.
Incumbent Town Board members Thomas J. Quatroche Jr. and Joan A. Kesner are facing the presidents of two taxpayer organizations, Philip C. Best and Ronald J. Martin. Best, who has the Republican and Freedom party lines, and Martin, with the Republican, Freedom and Independence lines, see taxes and a politically-balanced Town Board as issues.
Quatroche, a counselor with Erie Community College, has Democratic, Conservative and Right to Life lines and has served since 1994. Ms. Kesner, senior executive assistant to State Sen. William T. Stachowski, was appointed in February to fill a vacancy and is running on Democratic, Conservative, Independence and Right to Life lines.
The incumbent highway superintendent, Democrat James F. Connolly, is being challenged by Jerome G. Giglio, running on the Republican and Freedom lines. Connolly also will appear on the Conservative, Independence and Right to Life lines. Connolly was a town councilman for 15 years before being appointed highway superintendent, effective Jan. 1. Giglio has worked for the state Department of Transportation for 26 years and is now supervisor of the regional crew.
Holland Vying for two councilman offices are incumbent Republican Geoffrey W. Hack, Republican Jeffrey D. Lewis and Democrats Karen M. Diemunsch and Kevin M. Larkowski. Hack and Lewis also are running on the Conservative and Freedom party lines. Councilwoman Karen Kline is not running again.
Kenmore Village residents go to the polls to decide whether to hold future Kenmore elections to November, rather than March. Democrats say shifting the vote would increase turnout and save money but Republicans say village issues would get lost in general elections.
Lackawanna The decisions by three members of the Lackawanna City Council not to seek re-election has resulted in a larger than usual field of candidates.
In the First Ward, Ricardo Estrada has the Democratic endorsement. Challengers are Charlie L. Viney, Republican and Right to Life; Michael J. Buntich, Liberal; and Andrea Haxton, Sunshine Party. In the Second Ward, Daniel M. Kozub captured the Democratic line by a narrow margin over former Councilman John S. Kwasniewski Jr., who has the Liberal line. Maureen Murphy has the Conservative, Republican, Freedom, Right to Life and Independence endorsements.
In the Third Ward, retired City Clerk Gerald S. DePasquale won the Democratic endorsement. Dennis M. Tos is the Republican candidate, and Martin G. Darmstedter carries the Liberal banner.
Lancaster Two political newcomers are looking to unseat Supervisor Robert H. Giza at the end of his first two-year term. Giza, who served 14 years as a councilman, has the backing of the Democratic, Right to Life, and Conservative parties. Arthur J. Rago Jr., a self-employed manufacturer's representative, is supported by the Republican and Freedom parties. Henry R. Gull, an auto mechanic, is the Independence candidate.
Competing for two councilman seats are incumbent Democrats Donald Kwak and Mark Montour, Republican Richard D. Zarbo, Lancaster Independence Party candidate Robert A. Heckl, and Jim Brett, running on the Republican and Independence Party lines. The highway superintendent post, up for grabs due to the retirement of Virgil Paul, is a pitched battle between Richard L. Reese, Republican and Independence Party candidate, and Carmen Zagarrio, a Democrat.
Squaring off in a hotly contested race for supervisor are two longtime combatants, incumbent John R. Foss, a Democrat, and Earl L. Jann Jr., a Republican. Foss wrested the post from Jann by one vote in 1995. Foss also has the Conservative and Independence lines, and Jann, Freedom and Right to Life.
Five candidates are seeking two seats on the Town Board. Incumbents Richard Ferber, who has the Republican, Independence and Conservative lines, and Joseph Holcum, Freedom, Right to Life, are vying with Fred G. Specht, Democratic, Conservative; George Kratzel, Republican; and David Carlson, Independence and Freedom.
Incumbent Town Justice Thomas S. Labin, Democratic, Conservative, Independence and Liberal, is being challenged by Edward H. DeKarz Jr., Republican, Right to Life and Freedom.
Democratic Supervisor Donald C. Holmes, a greenhouse operator seeking his fourth two-year term, will be challenged by Republican Councilman Thomas L. Cowan, a retired teacher who ran for the post in 1993. Holmes has the Conservative and Independence lines, and Cowan, Freedom.
Incumbents Mary Ann T. Peterson, Democratic and Right to Life, and Keith Dillingham, Republican, Conservative and Right to Life, and challenger Marian C. Vanni, Republican, Conservative and Independence, are competing for two councilmen terms.
After losing the Republican endorsement for the first time in 22 years of town service, incumbent Supervisor Dennis J. Mill beat Councilman David Buyer in the primary to claim Republican, Conservative, and Freedom lines in his bid to be re-elected to a third four-year term. Mill also has the Right-to-Life endorsement. He faces a strong Democratic candidate, Toni Marinaccio Cudney, who, although a first-time office-seeker, has been a voice in civic issues and served on panels devoted to open space and other issues. Buyer retains the Independence line, making this a three-way race.
Five are vying for two Town Board seats: Republican incumbents Paul Barnas, who seeks a second term, and John Mills, who has been on the Town Board since 1978; Democrats Thomas Urbanczyk and Steven McCarville, a two-term village trustee who also has Conservative and Independence lines; and Right-to-Life candidate Lois Ann Zendarski. Barnas has the Right to Life and Conservative endorsement, while Mills has the Independence line.
The election outcome could reflect voter views on allowing the CID Group to expand its Chaffee Landfill. CID requested that town residents vote for candidates favoring expansion. None of the candidates, however, have unequivocally said they favor expanding the operation. The expansion would add a promised $1 million a year to town revenues.
Supervisor John R. Schiener, a Democrat running for his second term, will face William F. Hare Jr., an Erie County employee, on the Republican and Conservative lines. Nominated for two councilman offices are incumbent Norman J. Uhteg, and Sheila L. Romance, both Democrats, and Republican-Conservatives Brenda L. Dabolt and Theresa M. Solari. Vying for town justice are Beverly A. Rothleder, a Democrat, and Sharlene Vossler, Republican-Conservative.
City of Tonawanda
Tonawanda Democrats and Republicans are battling over a shrinking number of Common Council seats and a more powerful role for the mayor provided by a new charter that goes into effect Jan. 1.
Mayor Alice Roth, a Democrat, is challenged by Thomas Christie, a former Common Council member. Common Council President Carlton Zeisz is being challenged by GOP opponent William Reece.
The new charter creates four wards out of three but shrinks the number of aldermen from two to one in each ward. In the First Ward, GOP incumbent Kevin Hardwick faces Democratic challenger Jay Ralph, and Democratic incumbent Jack Gallagher faces GOP challenger Fred Priano in the Second Ward. In the Third Ward, the two incumbents -- Ronald Pilozzi, a Republican, and James Kossow, a Democrat -- are vying for the single seat created by the new charter. In the new Fourth Ward, Democratic incumbent Kenneth Horn faces Tom Smyers, a former GOP councilman.
Town of Tonawanda
Three incumbents on the all-Republican Town Board are being challenged by three Democrats.
Ronald Moline, Raymond Sinclair and David Ryder, are running as a slate on their records, saying they will continue to focus on delivering quality services at affordable tax rates. Democrats Mary Quinn Wydysh, Michael J. Meyers and Andrew J. Spence contend the board has failed to deal with the migration of Tonawanda residents to places like Lancaster and worry the town's tax base will continue to erode if action is not taken. Highway Superintendent John Hedges, a Republican, faces a challenge from Democrat David T. Barrett.
Highway superintendent Rick W. Reed, Republican, Independence and Right to Life, faces a challenge from Stephen M. Schintzius, Democrat and Conservative.
A six-way race for two councilman seats is getting the most attention since it pits Democrats Timothy Wroblewski and Vincent Graber Jr. against long-time incumbents Christopher P. Walsh and Barbara A. Rudnicki. The veterans lost a bitterly fought primary against the newcomers. They also face two endorsed Republicans, Planning Board member Margaret Hartnett Armbruster and Ray Weimers, so minor party lines may prove decisive. In Walsh's case it is vital: The deputy county Democratic chairman will appear solely on the newly formed "Tax Relief" Party line, along with Mrs. Rudnicki.
Wroblewski and Mrs. Rudnicki have the Independence line; Graber, the son of State Sen. Vincent J. Graber also has the Conservative and Right-to-Life lines. Mrs. Armbruster is a Right to Life candidate.
Incumbent tax receiver Ruth Breidenstein, GOP, Right to Life and Independence lines, faces a challenge from Mary Derk, Democratic and Conservative.