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Colarusso enters race for supervisor

Orchard Park Town Clerk Janis A. Colarusso announced her candidacy for town supervisor Thursday, potentially setting up a race against the incumbent, Mary Travers Murphy.

Travers Murphy, an independent who was elected in 2005 with Democratic backing, said she has not yet decided whether to run for a second term.

Colarusso, a registered Democrat, has served as town clerk since being elected in 1993.

Before that, she worked at the Erie County Board of Elections, in a supervisory role involving polling places and election inspectors.

"A lot of people have been approaching me in the last four or five months to do this," she said of her run for supervisor.

Colarusso, 51, said she will seek the Democratic endorsement along with the support of other parties.

Gary J. Wojtan, town Democratic chairman, said he and the committee will withhold any endorsements until April or May, giving other potential candidates a chance to come forward.

As a non-Democrat, Travers Murphy would need special permission from the Erie County Democratic Committee to enter a primary race, Wojtan added.

Wojtan said the supervisor has scheduled a meeting with him to discuss her plans.

"Both Janis and Mary have been great public servants and done a lot for the town," he said. "It's not a bad dilemma to have to such distinguished women [candidates]."

Nominating petitions for the general election are expected to be due sometime in July at the county Board of Elections.

Colarusso, with her current term expiring in 2011, would resign as clerk if she were elected to the supervisor's post, which pays $70,761 a year.

She stressed her long experience dealing with the Town Board, having worked with three supervisors. Her cooperative approach would continue, she said, although no other Democrats currently serve on the board.

"I can't let political affiliation get in the way of working with them -- it's not about politics," she said.

Colarusso said she supports the consolidation of the town clerk's job with the tax receiver's, a move she said would save taxpayers more than $50,000. Most other towns in the county have combined the tasks, she said.

In other initiatives, Colarusso said, she would personally sit in on union negotiations and would implement flex hours so that town offices could remain open for residents one evening a week.

One of eight children of the late Dr. Dominic A. Colarusso Sr., Janis Colarusso attended Orchard Park schools and is a member of the Hillcrest Ladies Auxiliary.

e-mail: fwilliams@buffnews.com

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