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School Board candidates begin seeking petition signatures

What is expected to be a hotly contested race for the Buffalo Board of Education is now underway.

Tuesday was the first day for signing nominating petitions. Eight candidates are hoping to be on the ballot for the May 6 election to fill three at-large seats carrying five-year terms.

The field is expected to include incumbents John Licata and Board President Barbara A. Nevergold. Florence Johnson, who was elected in 1992, is not seeking re-election.

The campaign season will move swiftly leading up to the election.

Candidates must acquire 1,000 names on their nominating petitions by April 1 and file them by April 8.

After that other candidates have three days – until April 11 – to review the petitions of other candidates and make general objections.

There is a chance that some candidates may be bumped off the ballot as a result of challenges.

Final names on the ballot may not be available until two weeks before the election.

The filing dates for campaign financial statements are April 7, May 1 and May 27.

The candidates are:

• Adrian Harris, a teacher’s aide in the Lancaster School District and parent of a student at South Park High School. Harris ran against Carl Paladino for the Park District seat last year.

• Licata, an attorney for the Erie County Water Authority and School Board member since 2009. Licata is the father of children at Olmsted and City Honors.

• Wendy Mistretta, a former SUNY Buffalo State administrator. She is also an active parent at International School 45 and with the District Parent Coordinating Council. She has children at School 45 and City Honors.

• Nevergold, a board member since January 2012 and co-founder and co-director of the Uncrowned Queens Institute for Research and Education on Women. She is also an adjunct assistant professor at Empire State College and a former director of student support services at the University at Buffalo’s Educational Opportunity Center.

• Larry Quinn, a longtime business and community leader. He is a former director of development under Mayor James Griffin and former co-owner of the Buffalo Sabres and vice chairman of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp.

• Sergio Rodriguez, former deputy director of the Erie County Veterans Service Agency, Medaille College’s coordinator of the Office of Veterans and Military Affairs and president of the Los Tainos Senior Citizens Center. Rodriguez unsuccessfully ran for mayor last year.

• Bernie Tolbert, who also unsuccessfully ran for mayor last year. Tolbert led the FBI’s Buffalo office and held executive posts with the National Basketball Association and Coca-Cola.

• Stephon Wright, a student at Erie Community College and 2012 Emerson High School graduate. He was the first student representative to the board in 2012.