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NANULA TAPS LEADER OF GRASSROOTS AS TOP AIDE

City Comptroller-elect Anthony R. Nanula has named one of his biggest political supporters as his top deputy.

Nanula's appointment of Maurice Garner as deputy comptroller will make Garner the highest-ranking African-American to serve in the comptroller's office.

Garner is president of Grassroots, one of the city's most influential political groups, and was instrumental in Nanula's campaign for comptroller.

"This is an historic appointment," Nanula said in a statement. "I'm excited that Maurice has agreed to bring his outstanding administrative skills and his lengthy government experience to the comptroller's office."

Garner has spent the past eight years as a top assistant to County Executive Dennis T. Gorski.

In 1986, he headed a group of citizen activists and block club leaders who founded Grassroots. The group's intention was to bring into Buffalo politics people -- mostly working-class East Side residents -- who had not been involved before.

Since then, the group has registered thousands of voters, helped elect dozens of office-holders and run numerous community events. It also has become the East Side power base for several local politicians.

Nanula also announced the following appointments:

Former television and newspaper reporter Tony Farina as executive assistant. Farina was a speechwriter for former state Attorney General Dennis Vacco before joining Nanula's State Senate staff in March.

Former Senate Chief of Staff Jeffrey A. Tooke as executive staff manager. Tooke has been with Nanula since 1995.

Principal Accountant Anne Forti-Sciarrino as head of the Accounting Division. She previously held the job of chief accountant under former Comptroller Robert Whelan.

Nanula also plans to keep Andrew Sanfilippo as his investment and debt management officer and Dennis Dargavel as real estate director.

He also named reimbursement specialist Shannon Petrucci as director of collections.

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