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Three endorsed by teachers win seats in Williamsville

Three candidates endorsed by the Williamsville Teachers Association won seats on the district’s School Board on Tuesday as voters also approved $50 million in school construction projects.

The district reported that Shawn Lemay, Mark Mecca and incumbent Toni Vazquez won seats, ousting two other incumbents, Jay Smith and Michael Littman.

Voters also approved a $178 million budget.

A contested election and a proposal to revamp the district’s athletic fields in Williamsville drove up turnout Tuesday.

By late afternoon, about 2,900 voters had cast ballots. Last year, a total of 2,528 people voted in the Williamsville election.

Before polls closed at 9 p.m., all seven of the candidates running for three seats were outside the polls making last-minute pitches at Williamsville North High School, where drama club members were hawking chicken barbecue and music students were playing cellos and violins as voters entered the school.

“It’s a good school system, and we want to keep it going,” said Sheila Bernstein, who said she gave serious thought to all three of the ballot questions on district construction projects before voting.

In addition to choosing three school board members and voting on a $178 million budget proposal, residents in Williamsville also voted on three construction projects that total $50 million. They include districtwide facility improvements, adding artificial turf to the high school athletic fields and putting in lights at East and North high schools, as well as restrooms at all three high school athletic complexes.

The district’s school election turned heated in the final days as the Williamsville Teachers Association actively worked to push two of the three incumbents from the board.

Even students expected higher-than-normal voter turnout Tuesday.

Michael Kulik, a Williamsville North junior who was helping to drum up business for the drama club’s chicken barbecue, said the students ordered 1,300 Chiavetta’s chicken dinners this year in anticipation of high turnout. Last year, the students ordered 1,000 for the annual fundraiser.

See what was on the ballot in Williamsville and what the candidates had to say.