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New leader will bolster opposition to dissolution

It's anybody's guess how East Aurora will fare in the face of the growing debate over whether village government should dissolve. But any movement to do so will have to deal with a new mayor and a majority of village trustees who don't embrace the idea.

Although the village is waiting to hear whether the state will fund a $50,000 grant to study the idea, many do not mince words about their fears and mistrust of the idea if 10 percent of the village's residents were to bring a petition calling for a public vote on dissolution.

The complexion of East Aurora's government leadership will change next month, with Trustee Allan A. Kasprzak now the mayor-elect following last week's election. He defeated one-term Mayor Clark W. Crook, a local company CEO with a business approach to government who initially built his re-election bid around dissolution.

"I'm not here to reinvent the wheel," said Kasprzak, a registered Democrat and eight-year village resident. "I want to continue in the heritage of past leaders."

Kasprzak said dissolution clouded other pressing issues facing the village.

"Dissolution has become an issue when it should not have become an issue," he said. "The joint facility [for an expanded library and town and village offices] should be topic No. 1 and certainly not silly dissolution. Now, this keeps getting pushed back because of all this dissolution talk."

Kasprzak's tight margin of victory -- 46 votes over Crook -- makes it hard to gauge which way the community will go on the dissolution subject. But it seems clear that regionalism guru Kevin Gaughan, who has put several villages on his radar screen for the dissolution initiative this spring, will find plenty of resistance here.

Last fall, Crook made headlines by going public with his push for dissolution and even said he would help lead a petition drive for it if he lost the election. As the election drew nearer, though, Crook emphasized other initiatives such as easing traffic congestion, working toward consolidated highway operations between the village and Town of Aurora, and working to help establish a food cooperative in the village.

On some issues, the seven-member Village Board could likely feature a majority bloc consisting of Kasprzak and Trustees Libby Weberg and Kevin Biggs and Trustee-elect Randy West. All four oppose dissolving East Aurora.

Patrick Shea, the top vote-getter among the trustees, is viewed as more of an independent voice in general, while Trustee Ernest Scheer also has criticized dissolution, and Trustee Peter Mercurio has instead favored consolidation.

Shea said it's important that the public be given the facts about dissolution before a decision is made.

Although the final decision is controlled by the public, many sitting trustees have balked at outright dissolution.

"I think this was a huge commentary on dissolution," said Biggs, also a Buffalo police officer, talking about last week's election. "This is the first step. I challenge Kevin Gaughan to come in here and try. I don't think it will fly."

e-mail: krobinson@buffnews.com

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