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Campaign call made from school phone

The son of a former mayor said Saturday he received a phone call from a Lockport City School District phone urging him to vote for Board of Education President W. Keith McNall in Tuesday's Republican primary for 16th District county legislator.

McNall said he has many supporters in "educational circles" but said, "If they're calling from a school district phone, it's inappropriate."

David Betsch said he answered the phone at the home of his mother, Evelyn Soulvie, and after hanging up, noticed the caller ID screen showed "Lockport School, 478-4800." That is the general information number for the Board of Education office.

The screen shows the call was made at 2:59 p.m. Friday.

Betsch said, "It was a lady. She said, 'The primary is Tuesday.' I said, 'I know.' She said, 'I'd like you to support Keith McNall.' I said, 'He needs all the support he can get.' "

Betsch, the son of former Mayor Raymond C. Betsch, then called McNall's opponent, Legislator Glenn S. Aronow, who alerted the media.

Betsch denied taking sides in the primary. "I don't have anything against either of them," he said.

McNall said, "It's after recess -- I think recess is 2:30 -- but that doesn't matter. I'm sorry that's happening, but I don't have any control over it."

He speculated that a supporter of his used a district phone "for convenience sake."

School Superintendent Bruce T. Fraser said he'll look into the matter Monday.

McNall said he has not been endorsed by any district union. Fraser said the Lockport Education Association, the teachers' union, has access to phone banks and is "politically savvy enough" not to use district phones to call voters.

McNall is in his 17th year on the School Board and has been president since 2000. He is a registered Republican who also has the Democratic endorsement, meaning he will be on the November ballot regardless of the outcome of the GOP primary.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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