Amherst Republicans have picked Sweet Home School Board President Dirk D. Rabenold to oppose Town Supervisor Susan J. Grelick in her bid for re-election to a third full term this November.
A newcomer to town politics, Rabenold was unanimously endorsed at a party committee meeting this week. He pledged to mount a strong effort to unseat Grelick, a Democrat who has been supervisor for nearly a decade, partly because of support from Republicans.
She was first elected to a partial term in 1996.
One of Rabenold's first tasks will be to maintain support from Republican loyalists while reaching out to supporters of former town party chairman Robert Gilmour, who was ousted in a bruising leadership battle last year.
"I am confident I can raise the funds to run and win in November," Rabenold said. "There is absolutely a great interest in the community to make this change."
After Gilmour's defeat, his supporters, including a number of large political contributors, formed the Amherst Republican Civic Club. And they let it be known they would pick and choose which Republican candidates they will support.
But Rabenold said he has a broad base of contributors and supporters who believe Grelick has not provided strong leadership.
"They are happy they have someone who can deliver the Republican message, in contrast to Susan Grelick and the Democrats," he said.
Rabenold also said he intends to "hold Grelick to her record. Her authority and power are not being used to create an environment of cooperation, trust, and collaboration and a focus on doing the business of the town," he said.
Republican Town Chairman Marshall Wood Jr. said he expects Rabenold to receive support from both sides in the leadership dispute. As evidence, he points to the party's endorsement meeting.
"Everybody was in the room. There was no opposition," Wood said.
Taxes, the recent clamor over property reassessments and development are expected to be the main issues in the race, Wood said.
Rabenold, 50, is also a member of the town Recreation Commission and vice president of the investment firm of Janney Montgomery Scott. He lives with his wife, a son and a daughter in northwest Amherst. Another son is completing his residency in orthopedic surgery in Toledo.
In other action, the Republican committee endorsed Town Justice Mark E. Farrell, a Democrat, for re-election.