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Hughes is likely nominee for NFTA board of commissioners

A Buffalo hospital official might soon have a seat on the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority's board of commissioners.

Michael P. Hughes, Kaleida Health's vice president of public relations and government affairs, is Gov. David A. Paterson's choice to fill one of three expired seats on the NFTA board.

"I've been contacted about my potential interest in an appointment, but there's nothing official at this point," Hughes said.

The Buffalo native, who now resides in West Seneca, has been Kaleida's chief spokesman since 2004. Hughes previously served as communications chief for former Erie County Executive Dennis Gorski and was also a spokesman for Rural/Metro Medical Services.

The governor is expected to submit Hughes' nomination to the State Senate Finance Committee for review in the next few weeks.

Three NFTA board members whose terms expired on June 30 are continuing to serve as they await a decision from the Paterson administration on renomination. That list includes commissioners Stephen G. Juhasz, James C. Rosetti and Peter G. Demakos.

The public transportation agency has already seen several new faces on its 12-person board in 2008. Businessman Howard A. Zemsky and attorney Adam W. Perry, both of Buffalo, and James J. Eagan, a West Seneca financial advisor, all joined the board in recent month.

The board also got its first nonvoting member, Vincent G. Crehan, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1342.

The crop of new commissioners has arrived at a time when the NFTA is facing a financial squeeze of reduced government aid and increased ridership service demands. A projected $3 million deficit has led to consideration of a 25-cent boost in Metro Bus and Rail fares.

The NFTA board is expected to vote on raising one-way fares at its October session, with the hike to $1.75 from $1.50 going into effect on Jan. 1.

e-mail: slinstedt@buffnews.com

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