Editor’s note: Today The Buffalo News begins a series of editorials endorsing candidates for some of the offices to be filled Nov. 7. These endorsements by the editorial board are intended to aid voters in their evaluations of the candidates for those offices. Whether you agree or disagree with our recommendations, we urge you to vote.
Two well-qualified candidates are vying for the position of Amherst supervisor, an open seat due to term limits, but Williamsville Mayor Brian Kulpa, a Democrat should be given the edge.
His opponent, Conservative Marjory Jaeger, running on the Republican line, is Amherst town clerk and tax receiver. A lifelong resident, Jaeger is a Williamsville volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician. She serves on the board of directors of Amherst Meals on Wheels.
Jaeger is concerned about the town’s future, infrastructure, flooding and open commercial buildings: industrial, business and retail. She has much to recommend her as a candidate but her background does not trump that of Kulpa, who is in his second term as mayor of the village of 6,000.
The village is very small, but his time at the helm still counts as experience running a municipality. He served as a village trustee for four years before his stint as mayor.
Kulpa’s deep background in urban planning – he holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture and urban planning from the University at Buffalo – is an added bonus. He says the town needs vision and a plan. He may well be the person who can deliver the forecasting and economic modeling he touts, looking five or 10 years down the road.
Kulpa talks about the town’s history in urban sprawl and how to connect the points. One way is to break the town into parts and adopt a plan and strategy for the six economic zones and then look at each, neighborhood by neighborhood. Eggertsville and Snyder may have the same economic interests, but are two distinct communities.
Kulpa’s idea is to stop thinking about the town on the macro level – what’s good in East Amherst fits in Snyder – and start giving communities in each area a “say” in the town’s next plan and direction.
He also sees a problem in the town’s management structure, with board members and the supervisor cast by electoral law as equals, and beneath them a number of departments functioning in silos. It makes for individual decisions on important issues: from the former Westwood Country Club (which he summed up as a basic math problem needing a remedy for the sanitary and stormwater problem, two straight-line “capacity issues” that need to be solved) to the opioid center.
Amherst has been run well for two terms under Republican Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein, a lawyer and medical doctor, who put his expertise to good use for the taxpayer, saving the town multiple millions of dollars, lowering taxes and reducing town expenses. He should be thanked for his service.
Going forward, Kulpa’s experience heading a municipality gives him the edge in a race over another well-qualified candidate.