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Niagara GOP chooses Collins to run for Updegrove’s Legislature seat

LOCKPORT – William J. Collins Sr., a Lockport accountant and son of a former Niagara County legislator, was chosen Friday to run as the Republican candidate in the 12th District, replacing Legislature Majority Leader Richard E. Updegrove.

Collins, 49, was chosen unanimously in a Friday morning meeting of the Republican committee on vacancies, county GOP Chairman James D. Heuer said.

Heuer said Collins was recommended by Town of Lockport GOP Chairman Donald J. Jablonski, who said, “Will Collins is a longtime resident and a member of the (town) Zoning Board of Appeals. He’s got deep roots in the community. I think he was a better fit for a county spot.”

Heuer said the other potential candidate being considered was Darlene S. DiCarlo, director of finance at Odd Fellows and Rebekah Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Lockport and a member of the board of the Town of Lockport Industrial Development Agency.

Collins, the son of John F. Collins, who served as a legislator in the 1990s, did not return calls seeking comment. However, the county GOP issued a news release quoting him as saying, “I am honored to be selected as the Republican candidate for Niagara County legislator and I look forward to running an issues-based campaign advocating the need for lower taxes, right-sized government, and fighting for the interests of the Town and City of Lockport at the county level. I pledge to work very hard during the campaign and if elected, carry on the strong representation that Majority Leader Updegrove gave unselfishly to the residents of the 12th District and Niagara County.”

Collins added, “My parents have instilled in me from the beginning the need to always give back to one’s community, and have provided outstanding examples of how to be a strong community leader. I take their example seriously and will work tirelessly to serve Lockport as my family has for generations.”

Updegrove, the majority leader since 2007, had filed nominating petitions last week to run for his seventh term as a legislator, but Tuesday morning he announced that he had decided to pull out of the race. His notice of declination arrived at the county Board of Elections in Tuesday’s mail. It was postmarked Monday, which was the last day for a candidate to legally withdraw. That gave the Republicans until 5 p.m. Friday to name a replacement.

Updegrove, a partner in the Buffalo law firm of Spadafora & Verrastro, blamed heavy work responsibilities for his decision to drop out.

The Board of Elections also received paperwork Friday from the Conservative and Independence parties, allowing Collins to run in their primaries.

His Independence opponent will be William O. Nye, a registered Independence member who also is the Democratic nominee.

In the Conservative primary, Collins’ opponent will be David J. Mongielo, an auto shop owner who has run for legislator and Lockport town supervisor in the past. Mongielo is a registered Conservative.

In another County Legislature development, Marcus G. Morreale of North Tonawanda, a Democrat who had filed a notice Monday dropping out of the 8th District race, apparently changed his mind, as the Democrats filed a notice Friday naming Morreale himself as the replacement candidate. Republican Richard L. Andres Jr. is the incumbent running for re-election.

In Royalton, Highway Superintendent Terry W. Nieman dropped out of the race rather than run for a ninth term, and the GOP named highway worker James A. Spark as the replacement candidate. No Democrats are running in Royalton, so Spark will be unopposed in November.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com