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PETITIONS AVAILABLE FOR RESIDENTS INTERESTED IN RUNNING FOR SCHOOL BOARD SEATS

Twenty-six school board seats in Niagara County's 10 public school districts are up for grabs in the upcoming May 17 elections.

Those interested in running may pick up petitions at the administrative offices of their respective school district during the normal workday, usually from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Petitions must be turned in by April 18 for central schools districts and April 27 for the city school districts of Lockport, Niagara Falls and North Tonawanda.

Candidates for city school district seats must obtain 100 signatures, while the number varies in the central school districts: Barker -- 25; Lewiston-Porter -- 63; Newfane -- 54; Niagara-Wheatfield -- 25; Starpoint -- 39; Royalton-Hartland -- 26; and Wilson -- 25.

Several contests will be wide-open, with no incumbents seeking re-election to three-year terms in the Barker, Lewiston-Porter and North Tonawanda school districts.

In Barker, longtime board mainstays Vice President Priscilla Whitford and Margo Sue Bittner have opted not to run for re-election. Lewiston-Porter incumbents Nils Olsen and Jack Burmeister have made that same decision.

In North Tonawanda, School Board President Arthur Pappas said he will not run for re-election because he plans to run for mayor. Two other seats are also open because board members Michael Harms and Nancy Donovan resigned this school year for personal reasons. Pappas said the top two vote-getters will serve three-year terms, while the candidate coming in third will finish the last year left in Donovan's term.

Things are just the opposite in the Niagara Falls, Starpoint, Newfane and Royalton-Hartland school districts, where all eight incumbents plan to seek re-election.

Niagara Falls School Board President Russell Petrozzi and board member Christopher Brown said they will both run for another five-year term, while Starpoint School Board President Diane J. Braun, Vice President Sam J. Geraci and board member Janice Covell all plan to run for another three-year term. In Newfane, School Board President Donna Hill, the only board member up for re-election, said she has already submitted her petitions. Royalton-Hartland incumbents Susan Hughes, Robin Laubacker and Vice President Valerie Kovach said they will run for three-year terms.

Things are not as clear in other districts.

In Wilson, incumbent Don Delisi said he will run for another three-year term, while board member Myron Moyer and Board President Desiree Carlisle said they will not run for re-election.

Niagara-Wheatfield incumbents Michele Hoerner and Donald Moyer Jr. said they are both running for re-election. Board member Karen Sirgey said she will not run.

Lockport School Board incumbents Maggie Lupo and Kevin Duffy said they are running for re-election. Incumbent Renee A. Knight said she is circulating petitions but has yet to make a final decision about whether she will hand them in. A fourth board seat, which opened up last August with the death of Warren "Clip" Smith, is also up for grabs. The candidate who places fourth will finish the last two years of Smith's term.

e-mail: pwestmoore@buffnews.com