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With Pointer off ballot, board could shift

The potential for turnover on the Buffalo Board of Education grew even greater Tuesday when the Rev. Kinzer M. Pointer, the Ferry District incumbent, was ruled off next Tuesday's ballot because of faulty nominating petitions.

Pointer said he will continue to campaign as a write-in candidate. Even so, the Erie County Board of Elections ruling provides a major boost for Pamela D. Cahill, the only remaining candidate on the Ferry District ballot.

Even before that development, it was certain that new members will replace Donald A. Van Every in the North District, Jack Coyle in the Park District and Janique S. Curry in the Central District, all of whom chose not to seek re-election.

Incumbents Ralph R. Hernandez in the West District and Vivian O. Evans in the East District also face challengers, raising the possibility that new members could make up a majority of the nine-member board that takes office July 1.

The current board, in large measure, strongly supports Superintendent James A. Williams and his initiatives. But major board turnover has the potential to weaken that support.

Pointer, associate pastor at Pilgrim Baptist Church and a coordinator at Enterprise Charter School, said Tuesday he will not challenge the Board of Elections ruling in court but will instead wage a write-in campaign.

"I've been all over the city making various community groups aware of that and seeking their help," said Pointer, who was appointed to fill a board vacancy in March.

But losing his ballot spot badly damages Pointer's chances and increases the possibility that Cahill -- a former Buffalo teacher's aide, long-term substitute teacher and foster mother -- will become at least the fourth new board member to emerge from Tuesday's election.

"It's a tough, tough road without a lever to pull," Coyle said of Pointer's write-in campaign. "He's going to need a lot of help."

School Board candidates do not run on political party lines and often don't have political backgrounds or connections that indicate how they would vote on key issues.

In the Central District, Jayne K. Rand and Edward M. Daniels were ruled off the ballot for falling short of 500 valid nominating signatures. Rand said she will seek a State Supreme Court order reinstating her to the ballot.

In the meantime, what had been a four-candidate Central District field has been reduced to two -- Joyce E. Nixon, executive director of National Inner Cities Youth Opportunities, and Mary R. Kapsiak, a retired city supervisor of elementary education.

A look at other district races:

* North: Catherine Nugent Panepinto, a lawyer, is the only candidate on the ballot, but she is being challenged by Fred Yellen, a write-in candidate. Yellen was a Buffalo teacher for 32 years before retiring in 2000.

* Park: On the ballot are Gerald T. Quinn, who held posts in finance and insurance; Louis J. Petrucci, a city building inspector; and Kevin J. Becker, a city substitute teacher. Anthony LeBron, a city police officer, is waging a write-in campaign.

* West: Hernandez is challenged by Clarissa Acosta, a bank manager.

* East: Evans is opposed by Gregory B. Olma, an ex-county legislator.

e-mail: psimon@buffnews.com

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