Twelve candidates, three seats, two primaries. That's the short version of this year's race for Hamburg Town Board seats.
It's quite a field for Hamburg, where primaries were all but unheard of, and Democrats had a strong majority until four years ago.
Nine of the 12 candidates are running in primaries for two four-year terms or one two-year term. The Democratic and Independence parties will select candidates during Tuesday's primary, while three Republicans will face them in November.
Running in the Democratic primary Tuesday for the two four-year terms are Joseph A. Collins, Vincent R. Gugliuzza, Ted Casey, Leonard F. Kowalski and Ernest J. Jewett. In the Independence Party primary, Kowalski and Collins will face Gary R. Klumpp and Franklin J. Cirrincione.
Jonathan G. Gorman and Ford J. Beckwith are running in the Independence Party primary to fill the two-year vacancy created when former board member Tom Best was named highway superintendent.
Kowalski, Collins and Gorman are the endorsed Democrats, and Cirrincione, Klumpp and Beckwith have the Independence Party endorsements.
Many of the candidates responded to a Buffalo News questionnaire.
Beckwith, 44, a Navy combat veteran and co-founder of Primary Challenge, said he will vote against any tax increase. At a recent candidates' forum he said government is too big and too expensive. He wants residents to "vote for an average guy." In his campaign literature he endorses an anti-nepotism statute and consolidating the villages into the town, and the nine fire districts down to four.
Casey, 42, an environmental safety consultant, said residents want a balanced tax system. He ranks safety in the town, control and management of taxes and eco-friendly tax development as his priorities. He said he would serve town residents while developing a balanced and sustainable plan for growth and smart business development.
Cirrincione, 52, a chef and restaurant manager who founded Franklin Furniture and Kitchens and Baths by Franklin, said he wants to make responsible choices for taxpayers. In his campaign literature he said that his experience in customer service fields has helped him in the art of negotiation.
Collins, 59, an attorney, said the economy, property issues, downsizing and financial planning are among the biggest issues in the town. He said he would focus on long term fiscal planning, stopping the spread of illegal drugs in the town and schools and giving residents a voice.
Gugliuzza, 56, a Buffalo firefighter, executive vice president of Local 282, Buffalo Professional Firefighters, and an Air Force veteran of Vietnam, said his top priorities are taxes, public safety and youth and senior services. He said his life experiences and working knowledge of town government distinguish him from his challengers.
Jewett, 49, a corrections officer at the Gowanda Correctional Facility, has been Blasdell mayor for 14 years. He said the town needs more money for police services, and he would reduce spending by interdepartmental mergers, consolidating services and eliminating patronage. He would secure federal and state funding to improve sewers, increase the number of police officers and would like to see the Traffic Safety Committee merged into the Planning Board.
Klumpp, 52, a coordinator/instructor for player and coaches clinics for the Buffalo School of Baseball at New Era Park, said at a recent candidates' forum he would serve the town before serving any political party. In his campaign literature, he said he would do away with nepotism, consolidate both villages into the town to reduce taxes, and consolidate the fire districts into four districts.
Kowalski, 31, a licensed professional engineer with FRA Engineering & Architecture, said his engineering and working class background qualify him for the Town Board. He said the biggest issues facing the town are the increase in the contribution to the employee pension system, rising cost of health insurance, keeping up housing stock and reuse of commercial sites.