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North Tonawanda Common Council is down one member – again

NORTH TONAWANDA – After an unusual amount of turnovers on the North Tonawanda Common Council over the past year and a half, things appeared to be settling down last week when Catherine G. Schwandt was sworn in as alderwoman-at-large. She was the fourth person to take the seat in the past year - the third in the past four months.

But on Tuesday the pot was stirred again when Alderman-At-Large Malcolm Needler announced that Tuesday would be his last meeting. His final day on the job is Friday.

Needler said he was leaving after being appointed by the Niagara County Legislature last week to the vacant part-time post of county personnel officer.

“I wish I could stay, but it would be a conflict of interest,” Needler told The Buffalo News prior to the meeting. He also resigned from his position on the Niagara County Community College Board of Trustees, where he had been that board’s chairman.

Needler said the part-time job was one he had been looking at for a few years. The position, in effect a one-person county civil service commission, reviews job postings and specifications for not only the county, but for most of the county’s municipal governments, as well.

Needler, a Republican, served on the Niagara County Legislature for 20 years and had been an alderman-at-large for the past three years. He was on the NCCC Board of Trustees for seven years. “It was fun. It was enjoyable. I’ll miss it,” said Needler of his time on the Common Council. “But it’s time for me to try something new.”

He said his resignation should be “the last shoe to drop” in the tumultuous year which included Robert G. Ortt leaving his role of mayor after being elected state senator and then the city clerk-treasurer Scott P. Kiedrowski following him to be his chief of staff.

The Common Council conducted an interview for clerk-treasurer after its regular meeting Tuesday. Named to the post was North Tonawanda Department of Motor Vehicles Deputy Daniel R. Quinn. Quinn will need to step down from his job at the DMV to take on the full-time job for the city. Quinn had been one of two candidates the council expected to interview on Tuesday, but Needler said the other candidate removed his name because he was offered another job.

The Common Council will again begin a new search for a replacement for the alderman-at-large seat, but it may be able to take a shortcut. The Council has already interviewed four candidates, including Schwandt, who were interested in the position when former Alderman-At-Large Arthur G. Pappas resigned to become mayor in December.

Needler, who led the searches for alderman, mayor and clerk-treasurer, noted he will not be involved in this current search for alderman-at-large, but said Tuesday that he recommends the Common Council open the search again, but not to duplicate what they have already done.

City Attorney Shawn Nickerson said the interviews were a courtesy and the Council was not required to do them before they replace the position.

Whoever is appointed will serve in an interim capacity and, along with Schwandt and Pappas, who were also recently appointed, their offices will be up for election in November.

email: nfischer@buffnews.com