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Helfer named to NFTA board

Kevin J. Helfer, the Republican candidate for Buffalo mayor in 2005, is the newest member of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority's board of commissioners.

Helfer, 48, general manager of Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps, received State Senate confirmation late Wednesday to a five-year term on the unpaid, 11-member board. He was nominated by Gov. George E. Pataki.

He replaces Mary S. Martino, who has been serving in a holdover capacity since her term expired in June.

Helfer is a graduate of Canisius College. While his resume includes time as an autoworker and owner of a landscaping service, he is best known for many years of public service.

He served three terms as the Common Council's University District representative. More recently, he spent four years as Erie County's director of contract compliance, as well as a seven-month stint as county social services commissioner.

In 2005, he waged an unsuccessful campaign to succeed Anthony M. Masiello as mayor, losing to Byron W, Brown.

Helfer has been chief of operations for Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps, the private, nonprofit entity that runs the city's parking ramps and lots, since 2004.

The appointment to the NFTA ends a 14-year run for Martino, the board's vice chairwoman, who served as interim chairwoman for three months following the death of Luiz F. Kahl in November 2005.

Helfer is expected to take his NFTA board seat Monday.

The State Senate did not take action on the Erie County Legislature's nominee to replace the NFTA's other holdover commissioner, Lackawanna businessman Theodore Katra. Hispanic Community activist Cesar Cabrera has been nominated to replace Katra, whose term expired at the end of June.


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