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Town Board race features variety of seasoned hopefuls

The new entries into the Orchard Park Town Board race aren't really new faces in Orchard Park.

On the Republican side, there's Edward Graber Jr., a member of the Village Board for a little more than four years.

From the Democrats, there's Anne Marie McManus, a smart-growth advocate best known as the founder of the group that unsuccessfully fought the town over expansion of the Eagle Heights subdivision.

The other candidates are Republican Nan Ackerman, a 16-year incumbent, and incumbent Democrat Deborah Yeomans, who won a partial term last fall.

All of the candidates support smart growth, although they differ in the details of how to maintain green space, bring in industry and keep tax rates stable.

The main differences this year focus on ethics and a "my team, your team" approach to politics.

Yeomans has been an ally of Supervisor Mary Travers Murphy, and McManus would like to give the supervisor a majority. Her campaign literature even says, "help support our town supervisor" and includes Travers Murphy's name.

McManus said Travers Murphy asked her to run and she sees "a chance to make a difference now that Mary and Deborah are there."

Graber, meanwhile, said one "of the areas I could help the board improve upon is just the chemistry of working together."

He and his opponents are split on the issue of ethics. Travers Murphy and Yeomans have been pushing for reforming the town's ethics code and banning the appointment of party officers to town positions. Graber and Ackerman see it as a non-issue.

"In a democracy, we need to have an ethical government," Graber said. "At this point, I think we do have one. If you look at the headlines, you get the impression there's some kind of ethics crisis in Orchard Park. I don't see that."

Graber said managing growth is a higher priority with him.

McManus said she has started going door to door with messages about the town's comprehensive plan and the need for smart growth but that residents keep bringing up ethics.

"There's a consistent trend here, and people are sick of it," McManus said, referring to issues such as the town's insurance committee and how building projects are approved.

McManus, 48, is an engineer. Graber, 43, is a commercial lender with M&T Bank.

Graber and Ackerman are also endorsed by the Conservative and Independence parties, while McManus and Yeomans also have the Working Families endorsement.


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