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Caruana won’t seek third term as Town of Tonawanda supervisor

Anthony F. Caruana, the retired English teacher and Army veteran who as a political novice was elected Town of Tonawanda supervisor in 2007, will not seek a third term in the fall.

“It was very tough, a very emotional decision,” Caruana said Thursday during an interview in his office. “I thought about it, prayed about it for a long time.”

Caruana’s much-anticipated decision clears the way for a wide field of hopefuls for the Democratic nod, including Councilmen Daniel J. Crangle and Joseph H. Emminger, who have both expressed interest in the position.

Meanwhile, town Republicans have given their endorsement to Damon D. Piatek, 38, a lifelong town resident and small-business owner.

Caruana, 68, retired in 2005 after more than 30 years as a secondary school English teacher in the Depew district and is a retired brigadier general in the Army Reserve. As a “blank” not registered with a political party, he was recruited in 2007 by town Democratic chairman John J. Crangle to run for the office.

“He’s honest and he’s hardworking,” John Crangle said Thursday. “He’s a man of great character and great integrity.” Crangle said the Democrats will endorse their candidate sometime in May.

Caruana said he initially planned to serve only one term. A combination of family considerations, health concerns and a desire to travel weighed heavily this time, he said. Most notably, his son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren are moving from Virginia to London for three years while his son attends school and he would like to be able to visit them.

When first elected, Caruana said infrastructure problems, and safety and security were issues that need immediate attention from lawmakers. During his time in office, the town has nearly completed the $60 million Parker-Fries sewer-replacement project, which is only one part of a decades-long, townwide sewer overhaul.

Also, the town’s bond credit rating was raised to its highest ever level, he said, allowing the town to save millions of dollars in interests costs. “Because of that, we’ve been able to bond at a very low rate for these mandated projects that we have to do.”

He pointed to other accomplishments, including progress in economic development and grants for emergency operations and port security. “There’s a lot of great things we’ve been able to do,” he said, “and I’m proud to say I was part of that.”

As supervisor, Caruana has been admired for staying above the political fray.

“I don’t consider myself a politician,” Caruana said.

“I like to say I’m a public servant, and it’s the only reason I ran. I wanted to do the best I could and give back to my community.”