A November contest for a vacancy on the Lancaster Town Board became a three-way contest Tuesday as the Independence Party checked in with its candidate, Henry R. Gull.
Gull, a frequent speaker at Town Board meetings, is running for the remaining year in the term of the late board member John T. Miller, 57, who died unexpectedly June 1.
A special election Nov. 3 will pit Gull and his minor party line against Neil R. Connelly, a Democrat currently serving by appointment in his brother-in-law's old seat, and Richard D. Zarbo, the Republican challenger.
It's Connelly's first run for town office, while Zarbo and Gull both lost last year -- Zarbo for a Town Board seat and Gull for supervisor.
Gull, 66, a semi-retired auto mechanic, gained a measure of local fame several years ago as a leader of residents in the losing fight against plans by Tops Markets Inc. to build a $65 million distribution center on Genesee Street.
Gull said his campaign this year will focus on lowering town taxes, improving ethics in government, overhauling hiring practices and generally downsizing town government. Last year, his bid for supervisor on the Independence line earned him about 740 votes out of the more than 11,000 cast.
Gull has lived on Pavement Road in Lancaster for 32 years. His next-door neighbor is Robert A. Heckl, Lancaster chairman of the Independence Party.
"A dedicated citizen like Hank on the ballot gives the voters a much better choice and could finally begin to add some balance to the currently all-Democratic board," Heckl said.
Gull was born in Pennsylvania, the son of an immigrant Polish coal miner. He is an Army veteran of the Korean War and was scoutmaster for 16 years. He and his wife have three grown sons.
In another local political development Tuesday, the Erie County Board of Elections certified petitions filed by Zarbo as the candidate of the "Taxpayers Watchdog Party," his third line on the November ballot. Zarbo will also appear on the Republican and Right to Life party lines.