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Residents praise outgoing mayor for contributions to village

The Williamsville Village Board meeting Monday was light on agenda items and heavy on goodbyes as Mayor Mary Lowther and Trustee Jeffrey Kingsley stepped down from the board.

More than a dozen well-wishers spoke during the public comment period to laud Lowther -- the village's first female mayor -- for her activism, dedication and championing of community volunteers.

"You always heave treated everyone -- and I mean everyone -- with kindness and respect, even when their opinion was different than your own," said village resident and former Amherst Council Member Peggy Santillo.

Lowther was praised for siding with homeowners against intrusive, large-scale development and for supporting historic preservation efforts, civic events, community volunteerism and small-business needs.

Several praised Lowther for her involvement in specific village projects and issues. Lowther said she considered her prime achievements the village's purchase of the 1811 water mill and the behind-the-scenes support given to the anti-dissolution effort last year.

Lowther served as a village trustee from 1991 to 1995, then was elected again in 2003 on the new Vision Party line. She was appointed interim mayor in 2005 and retained the seat ever since, until deciding not to run for re-election this year.

Richard Rich, president of the Williamsville Business Association, said Lowther's actions spoke louder than words.

Lowther, who works full time as a benefits and services coordinator with Niagara Frontier Auto Dealers, thanked all her well-wishers and said she will remain involved with the village's Historic Preservation Commission.

Also serving his last day on the board was Kingsley, regarded as outspoken fiscal watchdog on the Village Board, who has been critical in the past of what he considers a lax approach to some of the village legal and financial responsibilities.

Kingsley, a lawyer, spearheaded the Mill Restoration Committee and laid the groundwork to privatize the water mill property while protecting the mill's historic character. He also championed the end of the village's "exceptional development" law, which gave the Village Board unusual powers to bypass the standard Planning Board and Zoning Board process regarding large-scale developments.

Trustee Brian Kulpa will assume the mayor's seat, while newcomers Amy Alexander and Dan Delano step up to the board as new trustees next month.

For complete coverage, go to buffalonews.com/amherst.

e-mail: stan@buffnews.com