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Four candidates seek seats in Village of Barker races

It's shaping up to be a real race in the tiny Village of Barker -- population 577 -- as four residents vie for two seats on the Village Board on Tuesday.

"We usually have no competition," said Village Clerk-Treasurer Kathie Smith.

The polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. in Village Hall, 8708 Main St.

"We vote with pencil and paper, we've never used a voting machine," Smith pointed out.

One vacancy was created when Michael Diez, who also serves as deputy mayor, declined to seek re-election. The other seat currently belongs to Charles Fuller, who will seek a second two-year term.

The three other candidates include retired Barker Mayor John Hayden and political newcomers Erin Goodlander and Kim Matheis.

Fuller, 63, retired in 2001 after 30 years with Delphi. He is also a former chief with the Hartland Volunteer Fire Department.

"It's interesting," he said of his work on the Village Board. "You learn about a lot of things. Right now, we're working on a grant to get some new water lines. Our water lines are very old."

Hayden, 71, taught in the Niagara-Wheatfield School District for 32 years before retiring. He became a village trustee in 1981 and the mayor in 1997, serving until 2003.

"It's not that I'm unhappy with the present situation, I'm just tired of watching the years go by," Hayden said.

Hayden said he most enjoyed "meeting the needs of the people" while in public office and felt "we got quite a few things accomplished, like bringing in new businesses. We're on hard times now, and I thought we could use some new avenues."

Goodlander, 26, is the married mother of five and an education student at Buffalo State College. She also is the daughter of Clerk-Treasurer Smith, whom she said has helped her become more aware of issues in the village.

"I think I have a better understanding of what goes on because of my mother," she said.

Low water pressure and repairs needed on her road prompted her interest in the seat, she said.

Matheis, 37, is a home health care aide and the married mother of two. She said she entered the race "to become involved in my community and see where I can help."

She added, "It's good to have some younger people's input along to the older nominees. We can learn a lot from them."

The two-year post pays $1,200 per year, and Barker keeps it apolitical by using two independent parties: the Square Deal and Citizens parties. The state allows villages to do this to keep the "politics" of the major parties out of village affairs.

"These parties go back a long time here," explained Smith. "You could make up your own name for a party if you wanted to. All you have to do to run is be 18, a registered voter and live in the village and give us a nominating petition signed by 5 percent of the registered voters -- so that's 18 names."

The winners of the Barker Village Board seats take office April 3.

>Other villages

Elsewhere, in Middleport's uncontested board race, Thomas Conley will seek a sixth term Tuesday on the People's Choice line, and Theresa Kirkpatrick will run for the other available spot with the Shamrock Party. That seat was created when John Shuttleworth decided not to seek re-election.

"I believe it helps keep the elections as simple as possible," Middleport Clerk/Treasurer Rebecca Schweigert said of a village's choice to use independent party lines.

In the Village of Wilson, one incumbent, Milton Clark, is unopposed for a seat he has held since 1991. Clark is a Republican. Only two trustees serve on the board -- for four-year terms -- in addition to the mayor, making it the smallest village board in the county.

The polls in Wilson and Middleport also will be open from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday in their respective village halls.

The Village of Youngstown holds its election May 16.

Lewiston Village Elections will be held from noon to 9 p.m. on June 20. The mayor's seat and two trustee positions will be on the ballot. Currently, no candidates have been announced.

The mayor's seat is a four-year term. Current Mayor Richard F. Soluri has been mayor for three terms, since 1994. The two trustee positions up for a vote are four-year seats held by Trustee William Geiben, who has served five years, and Trustee Terry Collesano, who has served eight years.

e-mail: niagaranews@buffnews.com

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