The race for Amherst town clerk will result in the first new face elected to the position in more than a decade.
It pits Marjory Jaeger, the current town clerk and former Board of Elections office manager, against Deborah Bruch Bucki, a first-term Amherst Town Board member and civic volunteer.
The women have a few things in common.
Both have political ties, raised similar amounts of money and contributed personal dollars to their own campaigns in an aggressive effort to win the seat abruptly vacated by Susan Jaros, who retired in July.
They both say they want to modernize the town clerk's office, provide more Internet-based services and expand accessibility to residents.
Jaeger was appointed clerk three months ago. In that time, she said, she eliminated existing cost overruns in her office, extended tax collection hours for school tax bills and partnered with the Amherst Senior Center to issue disabled parking permit tags from there two days a month.
"This was an opportunity to make a change from the inside," Jaeger said of her time as clerk.
Jaeger, 37, graduated from the University at Buffalo with a bachelor's degree in political science. She's endorsed by the Republican and Conservative parties and the Good Government Club.
Prior to becoming clerk, Jaeger served as an office manager who coordinated the work flow of three supervisors and about 50 other staffers with the Erie County Board of Elections. She also served on the town's Solid Waste Advisory Committee, Citizens School Board Task Force, Government Studies Committee and Town Planning Board.
Bucki has been a Town Board member since 2006 and served as deputy supervisor that year. As a board member, she said, she has co-authored new board Rules of Order to make meetings more efficient.
She has also supported term limits for elected officials and funding for the Eggertsville Community Center, she said, while combating loss of green space and overdevelopment.
"My set of experiences is what really distinguishes me," Bucki said.
Bucki, 55, earned her nursing degree from D'Youville College and a master's degree in medical sociology from UB. She's endorsed by the Democratic, Working Families and Independence parties, the Amherst Police Club, the local Sierra Club, Communication Workers of America Western New York Council and Polish Solidarity Task Force.
Bucki has been a member of many community and nonprofit organizations over the years. She worked as a nurse in the mid-1970s and spent many years as a stay-at-home mom.
In this race, both candidates have accused the other of exploiting political connections.
Bucki describes Jaeger as a political appointee who has held patronage jobs with the Board of Elections her entire career. She said Jaeger is a Republican contributor who was appointed by the board in a 4-3 vote, essentially along party lines.
"She's been living off the government for the last 14 years," Bucki said.
Jaeger, meanwhile, said Bucki is married to U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Carl L. Bucki, who holds a high paying, appointed position. Her son is an officer in the Amherst Democratic Party, she said.
She added that Bucki ran for the Town Board in 2001 and 2003 before succeeding in 2005 and is now vying for the clerk's position before completing her first term on the board.