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COLUCCI BATTLES FISHER TO RUN AS DEMOCRAT FOR LEGISLATURE

Incumbent Judith P. Fisher and challenger Leon J. Colucci will face off in Tuesday's primary for the Democratic Party's nomination for county legislator from the 4th District.

Both are registered Democrats. But Colucci also has the Republican endorsement and will appear on that line in the November general election, regardless of the outcome of the primary.

"I may be the first 'Republicrat,' " Colucci quipped.

The sprawling district, which covers parts of the Niagara and Delaware neighborhoods on Buffalo's West Side, encompasses Allentown, the Elmwood strip, two colleges, the big cultural institutions and Delaware and other parks, and stops just south of Hertel Avenue.

Both Mrs. Fisher and Colucci say they want to promote tourism, attract business, increase jobs, preserve architectural treasures, lower taxes and support city parks.

They both have courted neighborhood groups. Mrs. Fisher used a large part of the $100,000 every Democratic legislator receives for pet projects to back after-school and beautification programs.

Colucci proposes seeking a monthlong suspension -- in time for Christmas shopping -- from the county share of sales tax for businesses in the 4th district, where lively small-shop commercial areas have continued to flourish despite suburban shopping malls.

The Peace Bridge and Buffalo Psychiatric Center lie within the district, and Mrs. Fisher serves on major civic committees trying to shape the future of each.

"We cannot let the state close down any more beds at the Psychiatric Center," she said. "We should be looking at increasing beds. There is a real need. There is a whole range of services provided at the Psychiatric Center not available elsewhere."

The lakefront is not part of the district, but the 17 county legislators have votes on issues that affect the county as a whole. Most 4th District residents do not have boats, but they would love to have a convenient beach, Colucci said.

"I would push for a beach on the waterfront land, owned by the NFTA, across from Fuhrmann Boulevard," he said. "There is a whole stretch that could be a beach for the public."

He also advocates a somewhat smaller, but better, Buffalo Zoo at its current location in Delaware Park and envisions moving some indigenous animals -- bison, for instance -- to the Tifft Nature Preserve.

"I've seen a herd of bison in Ellicottville," he said. "It would be just spectacular" -- and a tourist attraction, he added.

Mrs. Fisher would like to connect Riverwalk, the waterfront bike-and-hike path, to a link reaching the City of Niagara Falls and to provide a 60-mile connecting pathway on both sides of the Niagara River.

As chairwoman of the Legislature's Health-Mental Health Committee, she would like an expansion in the limited services that the county Health Department now provides new mothers by , possibly through hospitals, so that every new mother and child has access to a nurse.

Her list for upcoming attention also includes a better way to connect the mentally ill, who circle through streets, courts and jails, with programs that might break the cycle of homelessness

Colucci would like the county to help create multiple-purpose centers that would serve children and seniors, and offer cultural activities in the same structure. He also proposes efforts to check on isolated home-bound seniors to make sure they are all right.

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