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N. Tonawanda to swear in mayor, Council members

The Common Council is getting some young blood.

Kevin J. Brick Jr., 24, will be among those sworn in at noon today in North Tonawanda City Hall, 216 Payne Ave.

Brick, the new 2nd Ward alderman, will take office with a fellow Democrat, Lawrence V. Soos, the city's new mayor, and another new City Council member, Nancy A. Donovan, 55, a Republican who will represent the 3rd Ward.

In November, Brick beat Suzanne B. Hempel, the Republican incumbent, 1,191 to 1,175.

"I was shocked that it was so close," Brick said last week of his 16-vote margin. "The main reason it was shocking is that I'm a young Democrat upstart and to go against a Republican incumbent, that made me feel so much better -- being the underdog the whole time, and then pulling off the victory."

Brick said residents were unsure of him at first, because of his age.

"I would have people assume I was 16 when I knocked on their doors," he said. "They thought I was really young. As the race continued, people perceived my age as a plus. I'm young, full of energy; and I think my age really helped me in the end."

Brick said he was not worried about whether other Council members will take him seriously.

"I think they will," he said. "They see that I ran a campaign, so they have to take me somewhat seriously. I think I'm an intelligent person, I will work in the best interest of the city, and I'm hoping it could be a learning experience."

Brick received his bachelor's degree in communication studies this year from Fredonia State College. He works as a sales associate for Sherwin Williams Paint Co. in the city.

He said the issues he plans to tackle in his ward include complaints about the diesel fumes coming from Larry's Truck Center at 340 Robinson St.

"I'm going to do my best to take care of their worries and concerns, without affecting this guy's business," he said. "I'm hoping that there's some kind of agreement we can reach that would be good for both sides."

Cooperation also will be key for a City Council evenly split along major party lines.

Brick and Soos will join Philip Russell Rizzo, 1st Ward alderman, as the Democratic contingent. Former 2nd Ward Alderman Brett Sommer, a Republican, will succeed Soos as alderman-at-large. He, Donovan and Alderwoman-at-Large Catherine G. Schwandt will constitute the Republican ranks.

Donovan, the new 3rd Ward alderwoman, defeated Louis J. DalPorto, a Democrat, 1,653 to 1,582. Donovan said she plans to work to lower taxes through economic development.

Soos won a hard-fought victory, defeating Michael P. Carney, the Republican clerk of the Niagara County Legislature, by about 300 votes.

Soos said he was looking forward to the aftermath of next fall's election, when North Tonawanda can expect to benefit from the victories of other Democrats. State Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer, he predicted, will be elected governor, while Hillary Rodham Clinton will be re-elected to the Senate to continue working with Sen. Charles E. Schumer. Soos said last month he had talked with all of them.

"They're going to want to give money to a Democratic mayor. They're really excited about my election and Niagara County," said Soos, who also has vowed to work with leading local Republicans, including State Sen. George D. Maziarz, a North Tonawanda native who lives in Newfane.

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