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Amherst challenger has more in campaign fund than supervisor

Amherst Council Member Mark A. Manna has raised more money in his bid for supervisor than incumbent Barry A. Weinstein – thanks in large part to opponents of a controversial hotel.

But that doesn’t mean Weinstein will be crying poor this election season – quite the opposite.

Weinstein comes into the race with $25,000 his wife loaned him late last year and he says he has more if he needs it.

In all, nearly $60,000 has been raised by both candidates – a significant amount for a suburban election that has already proven contentious.

Campaign documents filed last week by Manna, a Democrat, and Weinstein, a Republican, show the upstart Manna actually has more in his election kitty than the incumbent.

The contract negotiator and pension trustee has $33,000 in his election fund, most of which poured in since the beginning of the year.

He came into the most recent fundraising cycle with $12,000 and raised an additional $25,000 – nearly half of which came from opponents of the proposed Hyatt Place hotel on Main Street. He wound up with $33,000 on hand after spending on advertising and other expenses.

The numbers show Manna has won over the hearts – and the wallets – of the neighbors who are mounting a furious campaign to stop the hotel from being built near their backyards.

A total of $12,413 was given by residents of Livingston and Lakewood parkways, whose backyards would face the hotel.

His largest individual contributors, all members of that group, were James D. Reynolds, $3,500; Edward J. Butler, $2,500; Raymond V. Paolini Jr., $2,000; and Kathleen Lindell, $1,500.

Manna said the money shows the development of two six-story hotels along Main Street has “really galvanized people’s concern about development and where we’re heading as a town.”

“It’s not just one hotel,” he added. “Who is planning the development future for the town? Special interests, or are we going to let the neighbors have a say in how their neighborhood is developed?”

Weinstein, meanwhile, said he has not held a fundraiser in more than two years.

“I don’t need the money,” he said. “I intend to self-fund. I’m going to be completely independent.”

Records show Weinstein’s wife, Lois, loaned his campaign $25,000 in December. Since then, he has received just $600.

Weinstein, who has held positions as a doctor, lawyer and real estate developer, was asked whether he was worried that Manna had more money at this point.

“Not at all,” he said with a laugh.

He predicted the issue of taxes and quality-of-life issues – not just development – would be a key to the upcoming election.

“Most of the people historically have been concerned about the taxes they pay and the job opportunities in the area and the good quality of government,” he said, adding that the town has cut millions in costs under his watch.

But he said he is not ignoring the development issue, which had become a central theme in the campaign thus far.

“The Town Board has been blamed for a lot of development it had nothing to do with,” he said. “Maybe we need to change the rules so the Town Board is more involved in the process.”

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