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Tonawanda Democrats tap Conrad to fill vacant Town Board seat

Democrats in the Town of Tonawanda have settled on their choice to fill a vacancy on the Town Board that will be created next year when Councilman Joseph H. Emminger becomes town supervisor.

The town Democratic Committee on Saturday endorsed William C. Conrad III, a Kenmore West High School teacher, from a field of three candidates as its recommendation. Conrad is expected to be appointed to the post when the Town Board meets Jan. 4 for its annual reorganization meeting.

“I think he’ll be a great asset to the Town Board,” said town Democratic chairman John J. Crangle. “I think he’s a great guy and we’re really happy to endorse him. He was endorsed overwhelmingly to our Town Board. He’s really well respected in the community. He gave a great presentation. He showed a lot of class and respect for everyone in this town.”

Conrad, 38, made his first foray into politics in 2013 when he lost to Republican incumbent Kevin R. Hardwick for the Erie County Legislature’s 4th District seat. A lifelong town resident who is married with three children, Conrad teaches U.S. history, economics and social studies.

“I’m very interested in how our government works,” he said. “I’ve been following it and been a part of it for a long time.”

Conrad said he hopes to have a role working with the town’s youth and knows that the impending closure of the Huntley Station power plant in March will be the Town Board’s first priority next year. The town stands to lose more than $2 million in annual revenue from a payment in lieu of taxes agreement if Huntley closes March 1 as expected.

Emminger takes over Jan. 1 from Supervisor Anthony F. Caruana, who did not seek a third term. Monday will be Caruana’s final Town Board meeting as supervisor, a post he was elected to in 2007 and re-elected to in 2011.

In addition to Emminger, Conrad would join John A. Bargnesi Jr., Lisa M. Chimera and Daniel J. Crangle on the all-Democratic Town Board.

Conrad would have to run in November to finish out the remaining year in Emminger’s term, then run again in November 2017 for a full four-year term. The post pays $19,467 annually, an amount that has not increased since 2006.

The committee also considered two other candidates – Katie Burd, a Kenmore village trustee, and Todd J. Potter Jr., a Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School Board member who last month also was unsuccessful in a bid to unseat Hardwick.

“I’m just very happy that the committee picked me, the leadership and everybody felt confident in me,” Conrad said. “I’m happy to work with the Town Board. They’re a great bunch of people. I think I have some ideas to offer and be a team player.”