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Billboard goes up on Transit Road ahead of Lancaster School Board elections

It’s going to be the battle of the billboard vs. the banner in advance of Tuesday’s Lancaster School Board election.

On a deeper level, the fight is over two differing ideologies undergirding this year’s election, a politically contentious quarrel that has festered since the School Board voted to abandon the name Redskins for the district’s sports teams and mascot over a year go.

Supporters of the Redskins name last year hung a banner over Central Avenue in the Village, exhorting residents to “Save the Tradition.”

This Sunday, two days before the election, an opposing group plans to rally around a new billboard that recently went up just south of the state Thruway exit ramp, north of Genesee Street, in support of their two candidates in the race, incumbent Bill Gallagher and newcomer Sue Metz. Both support the board’s decision to retire the Redskins name and move ahead to more pressing matters.

In a statement sent to The Buffalo News about Sunday’s rally, organizers lamented that the pro-Redskins banner had drawn “unwanted attention and criticism to the community from local and national media and Native Americans.”

There are two open seats on the seven-member School Board. Two candidates, Brian C. Osika and MaryJo E. DiGiulio-Schaefer, are backed by the pro-Redskins faction in the community. The self-described independent in the race is Kristi M. Perillo-Okeke.

Gallagher Friday said he was not part of the group responsible for putting up the billboard, but that he will be attending the rally Sunday.

“I think a lot people want everyone to know there are a lot of great things going on in the schools, but all they hear about is the negative aspects of the School Board meetings,” Gallagher said.

The billboard is intended to be a counter to that, he added.