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Three Democrats vying for two Town Board seats in Amherst primary

Three Democrats running for two seats on the Town Board highlight the primary election next week in Amherst.

Democrats in Amherst – who make up 40 percent of the voters in Erie County’s largest town – thought they might avoid a primary battle this year after party leaders backed Deborah Bruch Bucki and Francina J. Spoth in April, but newcomer Hadar Borden had other ideas.

Borden submitted enough valid petitions to the county Board of Elections to get on the ballot, setting off infighting among town Democrats and a court challenge to try to bump Borden off the ballot. It didn’t work.

“I respect her for making that decision,” said Jerome D. Schad, chairman of the Amherst Democratic Committee. “I made a case for party unity, but my message did not resonate well enough and we have a primary. That’s how it goes sometimes.”

Voters have heard the three Democrats campaigning on a common theme: development.

“I think that is a carry over from the election two years ago that the developers have way too much access to whatever they want to do,” Schad said.

Here’s a primary primer:

• Borden, 39, is administrative director of undergraduate academies at the University at Buffalo, where she earned a master’s degree in geography. This is the first political campaign for Borden, who feels that Amherst is ready for fresh leadership. Borden, who is campaigning on the slogan “Planning Amherst Forward,” wants to ensure that residents are involved in development decisions.

“I want to make sure they have a voice,” she said.

Borden has raised more than $13,500, and spent nearly $8,900, according to the most recent financial-disclosure reports filed with the state Board of Elections. She has roughly $4,700 in hand.

• Bucki, 62, who holds a master’s degree in community psychiatric nursing and a doctorate in medical sociology from UB, served as a council member from 2006 to 2008. Bucki then won election as town clerk, serving the remainder of an unexpired term from 2009 through 2011. Bucki declined to seek re-election to help care for her ailing father and mother-in-law, but has missed being involved in town government.

“I think one of the big issues is development,” Bucki said, “and, of course, taxes – being fiscally prudent while still being able to maintain a high-quality of services.”

Bucki has raised more than $27,100 – $14,000 of which is a personal family loan to her campaign – and spent about $7,200, financial records show. She has more than $19,800 in hand.

• Spoth, 51, who has a master’s degree in social work from UB, is a research and marketing specialist with Baker, Shore & DiLorenzo LLC. Spoth served two terms on the Williamsville School Board from 2005 to 2011. She ran unsuccessfully for a County Legislature seat in 2009.

She favors balanced, sensible growth.

“Overwhelmingly people are talking about traffic and development,” Spoth said. “Every corner, there’s something going on and that’s concerning people. People are concerned the development is just getting pushed through, and residents feel like they’re not getting a say.”

Spoth has raised $10,800 and spent more than $5,800. She has $4,948 in hand.

Also during Thursday’s primary, two Republican candidates for the board – Tara A. Cadmus and Susan D. McClary – are vying for the Independence Party line against Richard L. Woll and Jonathan A. LaVell.

email: jrey@buffnews.com