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Three file petitions for Niagara Falls School Board election

NIAGARA FALLS – Incumbent Russell J. Petrozzi, challenger Colene A. Melson and longtime board member Kevin A. Dobbs have filed petitions to run for the city school board next month.

The three submitted petitions, which had to have at least 100 valid signatures, in time to meet Wednesday’s 5 p.m. deadline. They will vie for the two open seats on the nine-member board in the May 19 election.

Dobbs, 60, is pastor of Christ Redemption Tabernacle on Niagara and 22nd streets. He was appointed to the board in late February to fill the remaining four months of the term of Johnny G. Destino, who stepped down in February. Dobbs served on the board from 1997 until 2013, when he lost a re-election bid.

Melson, 52, teaches medical coding, special education and literacy at the Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology. She said she is making her first bid for public office.

Petrozzi, 58, is currently the board president. He is vice president of Capitol Cleaners. He is seeking his fourth term, having been on the board since 2000. He was the top vote-getter in a five-way race last time he was up for re-election in 2010.

A drawing to determine the order of candidates on the ballot will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday in the district offices, 630 66th St.

The Niagara Falls Block Club Council, the Niagara Falls Rotary Club, the Falls chapter of the NAACP and the Falls Kiwanis Club will hold a candidates’ night at 6 p.m. May 12 in the auditorium of the Niagara Falls Public Library, 1425 Main St. It is free and open to the public.

Last year, there was a six-way race for two seats featuring two incumbents and four challengers.

Eight people had picked up petition forms from the district clerk’s office prior to Wednesday’s deadline, according to the clerk’s office.

There will be 22 polling sites open from noon to 9 p.m. on May 19. The VFW Post 54 at 2772 Main St., which had been a polling place in the past, will not be available this year because of an insurance issue, district officials have said. Those who vote at that post will have their polling place changed to Maple Avenue School for next month’s vote.

In addition to the board election, voters also will consider a $133.6 million budget for the 2015-16 school year. A public hearing on the spending plan will be held at 7 p.m. May 7 in the amphitheater in Niagara Falls High School, 4455 Porter Road.