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Sherry Byrnes, who represents North Buffalo on the Board of Education, is not seeking re-election this spring.

Her decision sets the stage for a two-way race involving former board member Oscar Smukler and Deborah Bang, a parent active at Olmsted School.

Ms. Byrnes is completing her first term. She said there "are a variety of reasons for not running," including family considerations and her enthusiasm for Mrs. Bang's candidacy. She said an ongoing ethics review into the use of a School Board grant to fund her position with the Private Industry Council was not a factor in her decision.

Others said her prospects for re-election were uncertain.

"When she approached me to carry her petitions, I said, 'No, I wanted to see who else was running first,' " said Donald Van Every, who preceded Ms. Byrnes as North District representative and who endorsed her three years ago. "I told her that I hadn't been thrilled with her performance as a board member, and I'm certain other parents felt that same way."

Smukler, an attorney, served on the board from 1977 to 1992. Mrs. Bang's two children attend Olmsted and City Honors, and she serves as a parent representative on Olmsted's site based management team.

All six district board members are up for re-election for three-year terms May 5, and the remaining five are running. At least three of them face opposition.

Board President Marlies Wesolowski is being challenged in the Lovejoy District by Viola Soles, a medical claims processor at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center who is running with the backing of Deputy Assembly Speaker Arthur O. Eve.

Park District incumbent Jack Coyle could face several challengers. City building inspector Louis Petrucci, who placed 10th in a field of 16 at-large candidates in 1994, has announced his candidacy, and several other names have been mentioned.

West District member Anthony Luppino is being challenged by Ralph Hernandez, a county Health Department employee.

No challengers have formally announced candidacies for the other two remaining board seats held by Florence Johnson (Ferry) and Jan Peters (Central).

Candidates have until April 7 to file nominating petitions with the Board of Elections. Five-hundred valid signatures are required to get on the ballot for the non-partisan election.

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