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2 BOARD SEATS HOTLY CONTESTED IN SIX-WAY RACE

In West Seneca, where politics ranks with softball as a municipal amusement, not one single office will be unopposed Tuesday.

Moreover, Republicans have a good chance at winning two more Town Board seats in the predominantly Democratic stronghold if there is a sharp voter split.

The hotly contested six-way race for two board seats may be the last hurrah for Christopher P. Walsh, the longtime town Democratic chairman, and could have some repercussions within the county Democratic organization.

Endorsed Democrats Timothy Wroblewski and Vincent Graber Jr. shook off a spirited primary fight from Walsh, and from Barbara A. Rudnicki, who shifted allegiance from the Republican to Democratic Party last year.

Mrs. Rudnicki often joins Walsh in votes against initiatives sought by Supervisor Paul T. Clark, a Democrat, and his two allies on the Town Board, Democrat Jerry Hicks and Christopher P. Osmanski, a Republican.

Last year, Clark opposed the election of fellow West Senecan G. Steven Pigeon in his race to become county Democratic chairman. Walsh, then town Democratic chairman, is a longtime Pigeon supporter.

Clark countered by mounting a tough district-by-district campaign to wrest control of the local party apparatus from the Pigeon/Walsh camp, and saw Deputy Town Attorney Eric G. Paul take the local reins. Walsh was then named Erie County Democratic Party vice chairman, a paid position.

Come nomination time, the two new candidates were named, precipitating a primary race that saw Wroblewski lead the ticket with 2,875 votes, Graber second with 2,685, besting Mrs. Rudnicki with 2,029. Walsh trailed with 1,894.

"We're not out of this yet," Walsh said then. ". . . we have support of . . . all parties, so we're going to make this a horse race."

Indeed, Walsh remains on the ballot as a candidate of the newly formed "Tax Relief" Party, along with Mrs. Rudnicki, who also has the Independence Party line.

Wroblewski will be on the Democrat and Independence lines and Graber, the son of State Sen. Vincent J. Graber, has Democrat, Conservative and Right to Life backing.

They are opposed by two Republicans, Margaret Hartnett Armbruster and Ray Weimers.

Mrs. Armbruster, a Planning Board member, also has the Right to Life endorsement and narrowly lost an election to the Town Board in 1993. Weimers is running for townwide office for the first time but is well known through his business and service organization affiliations.

Although Republicans have only 8,950 registrations to the 15,000 Democratic voters, West Seneca often votes the candidate rather than the party.

After many years as a behind-the-scenes political presence, Walsh ran for the Town Board and won in 1988, then lost in 1992. Appointed to the town Planning Board, he sought re-election in 1993 to the Town Board and won.

Mrs. Rudnicki served on the board from 1984 to '87, lost in a race against then-Supervisor Joan F. Lillis in 1988, ran for and won a Town Board seat in 1989 and was re-elected in 1993.

Wroblewski and Graber have been active in Democratic Party circles, but only Graber has run for elective office, losing a Town Board race in 1993.

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