The City of Tonawanda hasn't had a new Common Council president in 22 years. Fourth Ward Council Member Jenna N. Koch is hoping to be the next one.
Koch, 33, is director of human resources at a health care facility in East Aurora. She was elected to the council in 2013. If elected president, she would be the first female in that role.
"It was a discussion between my family and friends and came with much thought," she said tonight. "My heart is within the 4.1 square-miles of the City of Tonawanda."
Carleton R. Zeisz announced March 17 he would not seek re-election this year. Zeisz, 57, was first elected to the council in 1991 as Second Ward alderman. Two years later he was elected president.
The four-year term for council president position is voted on by the whole city electorate and oversees council meetings and forms committees.
Koch (pronounced "cook") is seeking an endorsement Wednesday from the city Democratic Committee. There are no other declared candidates yet.
Koch has made outreach a priority in her first term, hosting regular "Council on Your Corner" sessions for residents to bring concerns to her and other officials.
She pointed to accomplishments such as strengthening the council's relationship with the city school district, bringing food trucks to city parks, instituting overnight parking on city streets and negotiating a two-year agreement with the company that runs Canal Fest.
In her full-time job, Koch is responsible for compliance with federal and state regulations, and is a member of the Labor and Management Team, according to a biography released when she ran for the council.
She had run her own small business for three years and was recruitment and events coordinator for Niagara Community College. She holds a bachelor of science degree from Empire State College as well as an associate’s degree from Niagara Community College.
Every elected position in the city — except mayor — is up for election this fall. They include council president, four ward seats, city attorney, treasurer and city court judge, which is a three-way race among Mark A. Doane, Michael Drmacich and Mark E. Saltarelli.
Koch said she was inspired to run by her grandmother, Anastasia Holtz, who died in September.
"I couldn't call her and tell her but I hope that she's with me every step of the way for this journey," Koch said.