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Usually the challenger goes on the offensive, but in this case, incumbent Lovejoy District Common Council Member Richard Fontana minces no words in saying Richard M. Gattone "is telling flagrant lies and not running an issues campaign."

Fontana referred to his opponent as "an undereducated, middle-aged guy looking for a job."

Told of Fontana's remarks, Gattone shot back that if Fontana looks down on him for not having a college degree and being in his 40s, "he's alienating himself from a large part of his constituency (who are in the same category). If he's saying things like that, he ought to ask for a refund on his tuition because it's not too smart.

"He ought to worry about being a Council person rather than calling into question my credentials."

There are many ways to measure education, said Gattone, who is making his first run for public office. "I have a lot of college experience and have done a lot for the people of Western New York."

He said he has extensive volunteer experience with various organizations and saved 500 families from going into bankruptcy as a counselor for the Consumer Credit Counseling Service.

Fontana, who is completing his first term, said he's running "to continue the good work we started a year and a half ago."

Major issues are better police protection, schools, parks and playgrounds, he said.

The incumbent said he is responsible for a master plan of all the district's parks and obtained numerous grants for parks, sidewalks and streets. His pay raise of about $6,000 after taxes has been put in a special account to be used for district projects.

Gattone said, "Given the state this district is in, I am obligated to do what I'll do best: free us from mismanagement and move Lovejoy forward."

Jobs, housing stock and the need for lower taxes are the major issues, Gattone said.

His priorities would be to market the area, work to end the exodus of people and businesses and stiffen landlord and tenant responsibilities.

Fontana has the Democratic, Conservative and Independence parties' endorsements as well as those of the police and firefighter unions, the East Side Democratic Club and the East Clinton Democratic Club. He said he expects to spend about $1,500 on his campaign.

Gattone said he could not speculate on how much he might spend and pledged to maintain his independence.

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