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Lockport Council candidates battle over residency

LOCKPORT – The contest for the Republican Party nomination for alderman in Lockport’s First Ward heated up this week, with Shirley A. Nicholas accusing her expected primary opponent, Jennifer O. D’Andrea-Terreri, of falsely claiming that she lives in the city.

D’Andrea-Terreri responded that Nicholas was merely trying to stir up controversy while trying to get voters to ignore her services to local veterans as founder of an organization that helps homeless veterans.

The battle was sparked last weekend, when Nicholas supporters raised the issue of where D’Andrea-Terreri lives.

Records at the Niagara County Board of Elections show that D’Andrea-Terreri changed her voter registration April 21 from Rebecca Road in the Town of Lockport to 151 Chestnut St. in the city’s 1st Ward, but listed a mailing address of 80 Park Ave. in the city, the location of her office.

“She doesn’t really live here,” Nicholas said. “Her children don’t even go to Lockport schools.”

D’Andrea-Terreri told The Buffalo News by email, “Last year I acquired a beautiful historic Gasport Limestone home built circa 1830 on Chestnut Street in the First Ward and saved it from falling into further disarray. For many, many months my husband and I have been painstakingly and lovingly restoring it back to its original grandeur and upon the full and complete restoration, this house is to serve as my personal residence for me and my family.”

Real estate records at the County Clerk’s Office show the current owner of 151 Chestnut is Jacqueline Zacher of Cleveland, Tenn.

It’s not illegal for a candidate to start a campaign in a district in which she doesn’t live, as long as she establishes residency in the district by Election Day, Democratic Election Commissioner Lora A. Allen said.

Most of the 1st Ward is located in Lowertown, with which Nicholas is strongly identified. A regular speaker at Council meetings, she says she comes from “contaminated Lowertown.”

Nicholas won the ward’s GOP primary without a party endorsement in 2011, although she lost the general election.

“I don’t know anybody who’s done more for the ward than me,” Nicholas said Tuesday. “The EPA wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for me.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s creation of the Eighteen Mile Creek Superfund site, its buyout of five contaminated homes on Water Street and its demolition of the old Flintkote plant all are traceable to Nicholas’ fight over a city effort to increase her property tax assessment even though she lives across the street from Flintkote, the presumed source of the pollution in the creek.

Nicholas said of her opponent, “If you can’t live in the ward, how do you know anything about the ward? It’s going to be of the politicians, by the politicians and for the politicians again. I’m sick of it.”

D’Andrea-Terreri said, “I am not interested in, nor will I engage in any mud-slinging or speaking in a derogatory manner about any candidate. I believe my time is best utilized by spreading the message on what I can do for this city far beyond what I’ve already accomplished. I would think voters would be more concerned about that versus a candidate whose campaign is solely based on stirring controversy.”