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A primer on the Amherst supervisor candidates

Amherst voters have two distinct choices for the next town supervisor.

Most town residents who know Marjory H. Jaeger know her as the town clerk to whom they make their property tax checks out to. Residents who know Brian J. Kulpa know him as mayor of the Village of Williamsville, population 6,000.

The winner on Election Day will lead the town for the next four years as Amherst seeks to shift from new development toward redevelopment of older, existing vacant buildings.

Here's a primer on the two candidates based on their responses to a questionaire:

Marjory H. Jaeger

Jaeger, 46, a Conservative, is running on the Conservative, Republican, Independence and Reform party ballot lines.

She is a lifelong town resident and Amherst High School graduate with a bachelor's degree in political science from the University at Buffalo.

She lost her first bid for town clerk in 2008, but won the job in 2011 and again in 2015.

Jaeger listed her top accomplishments as:

  • Improving accessibility and transparency in town government by streaming meetings online and making it easier to file Freedom of Information Law requests
  • Expanding services such as locations and ways to pay taxes, and cross-training employees for quicker and more efficient service
  • Modernizing the Clerk’s office by upgrading software, data preservation and utilizing email and internet for permits.

Among the biggest issues facing the town, she said, are redevelopment of existing commercial properties, balanced with preservation of green space. She is also calling for a townwide traffic study and upgrading the town's infrastructure to increase sanitary sewer capacity and eliminate infiltration of groundwater by lining older pipes in Eggertsville and Snyder.

"Fixing this will reduce flooding issues," she said.

Her top campaign platform agendas are to preserve green space by concentrating on redevelopment of existing commercial properties, holding the line on taxes, addressing traffic problems and protecting vital services such as police and highway.

Jaeger's campaign reported raising $54,371 this year, including nearly $14,000 from her town clerk campaign committee. It reported spending $9,810.

Asked what distinguishes her from her opponent, Jaeger says "relevant experience," including knowledge of town departments and the town budget.

"I have been in attendance at every public hearing and I am in contact with our residents daily," she said. "I will not have to play catch up."

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Brian J. Kulpa

Kulpa, 39, a Democrat, is running on the Democratic, Green, Working Families and Women's Equality party ballot lines.

He is a 1996 graduate of St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute with bachelor's and master's degrees in architecture from the University at Buffalo.

The Town of Tonawanda native has been an Amherst resident for 15 years. He was elected a village trustee in 2008 and served as deputy mayor before being elected mayor in 2012. He is also a senior associate at architecture firm Clark Patterson Lee.

Kulpa identified his top accomplishments as:

  • Significant progress on 90 percent of the village's Comprehensive Plan, which he called "a map to our future."
  • Leading the village's "Picture Main Street" initiative, which next year will result in traffic calming measures and greater pedestrian access to the village's main thoroughfare.
  • Restoration and redevelopment of the village's historic water mill, which is now a privately-owned ice cream shop.

The biggest issue facing Amherst, he said, is a lack of fiscal forecasting and the need for a vision for the future of the town. A town with a $127 million annual budget and a legacy of big box retail and office space "needs to develop a compelling story about where it is heading and how it will get there," he said.

Kulpa listed his top campaign platform agendas as instituting fiscal modelling and forecasting, redeveloping the town’s organizational chart and developing plans that protect and enhance neighborhood character and green space through traffic and infrastructure analysis, zoning overhaul and capital projects.

Kulpa's campaign reported raising $33,559 this year and spending $19,200.

Asked what distinguishes him from his opponent, Kulpa said, "There is a difference between executive and clerical leadership."

As mayor, Kulpa said he has gained experience negotiating collection bargaining agreements, making personnel decisions, working through health care insurance provisions and holding the line on out of control expenditure.

"While the Village might be a smaller scale, my six years of experience as Mayor, coupled with 20 years of private sector experience has uniquely prepared me to fulfill those roles and responsibilities," he said.

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