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Candidates competing for 2 seats on Town Board

Four candidates, including an incumbent, are vying for two seats on the Newstead Town Board this fall.

Councilman Justin Rooney and newcomer Michael Schilling, both Democrats, face Republicans Thomas A. Grimm and Donald York.

Not seeking re-election is Councilwoman Cheryl Esposito, a Democrat elected four years ago. She has cited commitments to her business, Akron Child Connection, a day care center, and numerous civic organizations as reasons for not seeking a second term.

Unopposed in bids for new terms are Supervisor David L. Cummings, a registered Conservative who also has the Democratic endorsement, and Town Justice Richard L. Campbell, a Republican.

Rooney, a claims/suit adjuster at GEICO, said: "Leadership begins at the top, and I believe I have led by example." He won a special election in 2006 to fill a vacancy and was elected to a four-year term in 2007.

Deputy supervisor three times, Rooney noted that he has declined yearly pay raises since taking office, a move also taken by Cummings. (This year, all five board members declined raises.)

Rooney said he hopes to continue the board's work that includes joint ventures with the Village of Akron "that will save the taxpayers money in the long run."

Rooney also noted that the town has "a healthy financial situation," partly because it "has been extremely active in securing grants to offset the cost of our projects." The Town Hall addition, joint public works complex and the Murder Creek remediation are among those projects.

Schilling, a landscaper, wants "to work to keep Newstead a quaint 'small town' with its neighborly atmosphere by keeping a watchful eye on growth."

"With growth comes a larger demand for services, which results in higher taxes. Newstead currently offers a good bang for the buck, but I think it's important to pay close attention to what the future will bring," he said.

Grimm, Newstead Republican Committee chairman, lost a bid for a Town Board seat two years ago by 13 votes. He said his business experience as a licensed commercial insurance broker and agent and certification in the information technology industry would be strong assets for the Town Board.

"I am sharply focused on the areas of tax and government reduction. I truly believe that civic duty and good morals should be the backbone of any plan," he said. And he pledged to "work diligently to bring creative ideas to all discussions, with special attention paid to our citizens' requests."

York, an employee of the Erie County Water Authority, said, "A roll-up-your-sleeve-and-get-it-down mentality is what I would bring along with a common-sense approach to decisions."

He said he also offers a "proven professional track record and background, which I strongly feel is an important trait for a Town Board member."

Cummings, currently in his sixth year as supervisor, has served the town since 1981, including more than 14 years as a councilman. He is the retired director of operational services with the information technology department at Buffalo State College.

e-mail: citydesk@buffnews.com

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