Share this article

print logo

Supervisor positions in five towns up for grabs

Voters in five Niagara County towns will have a choice for supervisor when they go to the polls on Tuesday.

There are contested races for the top political job in Lewiston, Pendleton, Somerset, Wilson and Wheatfield.

In many other communities, voters will be choosing between candidates for seats on town boards and other positions.

Here is a town-by-town look at the elections:


Supervisor Wright H. Ellis, in office for 24 years, is running unopposed for another four-year term. He is backed by the Republican, Conservative, Independent and Reform parties.

Other unopposed races include: councilmen Matthew P. Foe and Joseph Ohol; Town Justice Amel S. Jowdy Jr.; and Highway Superintendent Jon T. MacSwan.


Supervisor W. Ross Annable has no opponent as he seeks re-election to his second four-year term. He is backed by the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Reform parties.

In addition, voters will re-elect: Town Clerk Cynthia S. Boyler, Highway Superintendent Keith E. Hurtgam and Tax Collector Katherine A. Hirner in unchallenged contests. There also are only two candidates for two open seats on the Town Board: Councilman Daniel S. Hill seeks re-election, joined by Clifford H. Grant.

There is a three-way race for two town justice spots, as incumbent Joanne L. Sullivan faces Lisa A. Trakas and Brian D. Gross, who currently serves as a town councilman. Brian Fitts retired as town justice last November and was not replaced, as Sullivan picked up his cases.


With current Supervisor Dennis J. Brochey planning to resign his seat, two newcomers will vie for the position on Election Day.

Deputy Supervisor Mark J. Briglio will seek to keep the seat in the hands of the Democrats. He will additionally run on the Lewiston’s Choice line.

Steve Broderick will run on the Republican, Conservative, Green, Independent and Reform lines.

Briglio calls himself a “nonpartisan” candidate, adding that too much blind partisanship in Lewiston has been counterproductive. He said he’d like to continue Brochey’s commitment to financial prudence. He has 30 years of management experience as an operations manager for Time Warner Cable and assistant store manager for Tops Markets. He is currently employed as a licensed realtor for Coldwell Banker Integrity Realty of Lewiston.

Broderick is a decorated lieutenant in the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office and the owner of Duckhook Golf. He said he wants taxpayers to know they “have a partner in town hall” and is committed to a long-term vision of bettering the community. He said he is aware of the diverse nature of Lewiston and wants to pay attention to all corners of the town to make sure everyone has input. He said he is also pro-business and pro-festival.

An especially visible race has been waged between candidates for highway superintendent, with incumbent Republican Douglas A. Janese being opposed by Democrat David J. Trane.

Four candidates are competing for two four-year terms on the Town Board.

The Republican candidates are incumbent William C. Conrad and William E. Geiben, a former Lewiston mayor who also served on the town and village boards. Conrad, a licensed architect who works in construction management, was appointed to fill the seat vacated by Ernest Palmer and is seeking his first full four-year term. Incumbent Republican Councilman Ronald Winkley is not seeking re-election.

Democratic challengers are Robin “Rob” Morreale, the co-owner and operator of Collision Enterprises, an auto body shop in Niagara Falls; and former Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte.

Town Clerk Donna R. Garfinkel will run unopposed, as will longtime justices Hugh C. Gee Sr. and Thomas J. Sheeran.


Nothing much to see here. Supervisor Marc R. Smith is not running for re-election, and Councilman Mark C. Crocker is unopposed to succeed him, meaning someone will be appointed to Crocker’s Town Board seat in January. Also unopposed are incumbent Councilmen Thomas J. Keough and Paul W. Siejak, and Justice Leonard G. Tilney Jr. They’re all Republicans.


All races in Newfane are uncontested, with Timothy R. Horanburg making his sixth consecutive bid for a two-year term as supervisor.

Incumbent Laura Rutland and newcomer Troy D. Barnes are running for two seats on the Town Council. Marcus Hall did not seek re-election.

In addition, three incumbents will be re-elected: Town Clerk Mildred “Mickey” M. Kramp, Town Justice Bruce M. Barnes and Highway Superintendent Jon Miller.

Terri L. Iannucci is seeking the post of receiver of taxes, with the retirement of Judith A. Meahl.


Four candidates are running for two seats on the Town Board, the only contested race in town government this year.

Voters will choose among Samuel S. Gatto, Robert J. McDermott Jr., Donald E. Schildhauer and Richard A. Sirianni.

Gatto has the Democratic line. McDermott has the Democratic and Working Families lines. Schildhauer has the Republican, Conservative, Green, Independence and Reform lines, while Sirianni has the Republican, Conservative, Working Families, Green, Independence and Reform lines.

Incumbents Robert A. Clark and Danny Sklarski are not seeking re-election.

The other races in the town are uncontested.

Supervisor Lee S. Wallace is seeking a full four-year term. Last year, Wallace won the remaining one-year term after the resignation of Steven C. Richards. Wallace has the Democratic, Conservative, Working Families and Independence lines.

The other candidates in uncontested races are Sylvia Virtuoso for town clerk, James J. Faso for town justice and Robert E. Herman Sr. for highway superintendent.


Pendleton has three contested races, led by the contest for supervisor, where Democratic incumbent James A. Riester is challenged by Republican Joel M. Maerten.

Both candidates agree that National Fuel Corp.’s plan to erect two large compressors to enlarge its existing pipeline through town is a hot topic.

“There are very few for it,” Riester said. “I don’t think it belongs in a residential area.”

Riester, 65, is in his 12th year in office, seeking another two-year term. He also is backed by the Pendleton Tax Cutter Party. He has taught at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Swormville for the past dozen years, following a career as a chemist.

Riester said budgets and taxes have been a top priority for him as supervisor and that he has helped “cut taxes 75 percent in the years I’ve been here. We’ve also never borrowed money while I’ve been supervisor and I don’t think many towns can say that.”

Maerten, 43, a teacher in the Kenmore-Tonawanda School District for 14 years, also is supported by the Conservative, Green, Working Families, Independence and Reform parties. He is the Wendelville Volunteer Fire Co. chief.

“There is a need for change, for new energy,” he said. “The town government has become too reactive instead of proactive and the National Fuel issue just highlights that town leadership needs to be more on top of things.

“But I’m not a one-issue candidate,” Maerten said. “This town is quickly growing and we need to attract more businesses and have better customer service.”

Also, four candidates will vie for two seats on the Town Council, with incumbent David A. Leible facing Michael J. Forster, David J. Naus and Todd T. Ostrowski. Ronald Morrison will not seek re-election. In addition, Edward J. McDonald and Kevin D. Mack are competing for one open town justice spot, as Timothy Murphy declined to seek re-election.

In two uncontested races, Town Clerk Terry J. Pienta and Highways Superintendent Jeffrey R. Stowell seek re-election.


Uncontested races in Porter include: Town Clerk Barbara L. Dubell; councilmen Jeffrey P. Baker and Lawrence H. White; and Highways Superintendent Scott B. Hillman.


Supervisor Jennifer H. Bieber is unchallenged in her bid for a third, two-year term.

Likewise, voters will re-elect incumbent councilmen Lee M. Criswell and Bradley L. Rehwaldt. James A. Spark is running for election to replace the retiring Terry Neiman as highway superintendent.


Supervisor Daniel M. Engert is seeking a third two-year term, challenged by newcomer Paul Oliveira. Both are registered Republicans.

Engert also is backed by the Conservative, Independence and Reform parties. Oliveira failed to qualify for the Republican primary and formed the Somerset Independent Citizens party.

Engert, 45, is the deputy chief with the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, where he has worked for more than 25 years.

Oliveira, 45, is a crew member for a major airline and works for the U.S. Department of Defense “transporting military personnel to bases all over the world,” he said.

Both candidates agree the public has spoken and the majority of residents oppose a proposal by Apex Clean Energy to build an industrial wind farm in town.

“We’ll fight this proposal at every level, and with all means available,” vowed Engert, noting that the town has retained the services of Dennis Vacco, a former state attorney general, and two others from his law firm.

He also said that while the Village of Barker, which is the commercial center of town, “has its own government to make decisions about the village,” he has been working with the Niagara County Economic Development Agency “to attract the right economic development for the town.”

Oliveira said he is running because “I am passionate about my town.”

He noted that Barker’s economic revitalization is on his radar.

“Our Main Street is our hub and unless we have prosperity there, we can’t have economic prosperity around it,” he said. “We’ve lost our bank, two restaurants and two bars … We need to bridge the gap between the town and village, come together and get this done.”

Uncontested races for incumbents include: Tax Collector Ruth H. Wendler and councilmen Jeffrey M. Dewart and Randall J. Wayner.


Wheatfield voters will have plenty of choice Tuesday, with three slates of candidates for supervisor and town councilman on the ballot.

The Republican ticket offers the incumbents: Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe, running for his third term, and councilmen Larry L. Helwig and Gilbert G. Doucet. The Democratic slate presents Gerald J. McCormick for supervisor and Robert W. Flammia and Shirley J. Joy for councilmen.

The third ticket comprises candidates who lost the major-party primaries, under the name of the “No Bio-Sludge” Party, referring to their views on the issue that has taken up more of the board’s time in the past two years than any other: the effort to prevent the spreading of biosolids, especially those derived from sewage sludge by the Quasar Energy Group plant on Liberty Drive, on farm fields. The town passed a law banning that usage last year, and Quasar is challenging it in State Supreme Court.

The independent candidates are Thomas J. Larson, who lost to Cliffe in 2013 and again in the Sept. 10 GOP primary, for supervisor; and Republican David T. Lee and Republican-turned-Democrat Thomas J. Stevenson, a longtime ally of former Supervisor Timothy E. Demler, for councilmen.

Two other Republican incumbents are unopposed: longtime Town Clerk Kathleen M. Harrington-McDonell and Highway Superintendent Paul A. Siegmann, who was appointed in October 2014 to replace the retired Arthur F. Kroening. Siegmann had been his deputy.


Two political newcomers, Republican Doyle H. Phillips, and Democrat Janet Hoffman, are vying for the job of supervisor with the departure of Joseph Jastrzemski, who is running for Niagara County clerk.

Hoffman, a retired nurse, worked as a medical administrator for more than 30 years, and is now administrator of the Wilson Community Food Pantry. She also is supported by the Green and Working Families parties.

“With Joe stepping down, this is a level playing field and I have the time now for this,” said Hoffman, 68. “This town really needs help; it’s not moving forward. There are empty buildings on Main Street, nothing is happening at Pfeiffer Foods; the (soon-to-close) Wilson House is a gamble; and we have no bank. It’s scary.

“And, I think it’s time to have women in government,” she added of the all-female Democratic slate for the Town Council.

Phillips, 73, has owned his own business, and is now semiretired and works for Case Boring and Pipeline, where he has served in supervisory positions. He’s also backed by the Conservative, Independence and Reform parties.

“I like the town the way it is – it’s a fantastic place,” he said. “I’d like to see it grow, but at a pace you can control. Joe did an impeccable job, and fiscally, we’re in fantastic shape. I’ve been sitting in on the budget workshops and all of our equipment is paid for and we don’t have debt.

“Everything’s going right and I’d like to proceed with that,” he said. “We need good fiscal control, and to make sure the services are not affected at all.”

There is a five-way race for two Town Council seats. Republican incumbents James V. Muscoreil and Thomas J. Thompson face challenges by newcomers Marilyn L. Wilson, on the Democratic and Conservative lines, and Democrat Elaine Bergman, as well as James C. Hufnagel, on the Green Party line. The Working Families, Independence and Reform parties also backed Muscoreil and Thompson, and Thompson has picked up the Conservative line.

In two uncontested races, A. Diane Muscoreil seeks the position of town clerk, having served as deputy clerk since 1997. Those seeking re-election include: Town Justices Robert J. Botzer and Mary A. Canfield, Highway Superintendent Daniel M. Kerwin and Tax Collector Julia Godfrey.

Wilson voters will decide two propositions, one abolishing the tax collector job and the other concerning the Wilson Community Library. If approved, the tax collector duties will be folded into the town clerk’s office, where Godfrey will be appointed deputy clerk Jan. 1.

Voters also will decide if town contributions to the Wilson Community Library should increase by $57,013 to an annual sum of $99,513.

Niagara Correspondent Teresa Sharp and Niagara Bureau Reporters Nancy A. Fischer and Thomas J. Prohaska compiled this report.