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Petition drive seeks another upsizing vote in West Seneca

There's another petition drive in West Seneca.

This one would increase the size of the Town Board from three to five by adding two council positions.

This will be the second time residents will vote on increasing the size of the board after the 2009 referendum that reduced the size to three members.

"Everybody thought that we would save money by eliminating two positions. I think the exact opposite has happened," said Dan Warren, the citizen activist who is leading the petition drive for the Committee to Restore Representation in West Seneca. "I do believe there is interest out there."

Warren put the petition online at the Committee to Restore Representation in West Seneca website, and is seeking volunteers to collect signatures in the town's 41 election districts.

He is hoping to file the petitions in time for a referendum to be scheduled the same day as the Sept. 13 primary.

West Seneca's board was downsized after a campaign by another citizen activist, Kevin Gaughan, to reduce the size and cost of local government. West Seneca and Evans were the first to institute the smaller boards in 2010.

Citizens collecting signatures in 2012 for a vote to upsize the board fell about 200 signatures shy of the required amount, but  the Town Board opted to put the proposal on the ballot. It was soundly defeated, and the three-member board continued.

West Seneca residents have their say on Town Board size

"To me, it doesn't matter if it's a five-member or three-member board," Councilman William P. Hanley Jr. said.

Hanley's service on the Town Board has been exclusively with three members. He said he doesn't want to get into the fray over the issue.

"It's up to the will of the public," Hanley said.

The current Town Board has faced vocal opposition on some items, including this year's budget and the new library/community center. Warren led a petition drive in March that was going to force a public vote on borrowing for the construction of the new building, but the board withdrew the bond resolution and is borrowing a lesser amount that does not require a public referendum.

Warren said the small board makes for bad governance. It requires a quorum of just two board members to conduct business, and when two board members conduct town business, they must do it in public. Warren has filed court papers against the board, charging it with trying to dodge the Open Meetings Law by having a third party talk to board members.

"I believe a three-member board lacks a wide range of perspective on various issues. That's a fact for any board and any town," Warren said.

He also said that the size of the board has nothing to do with the quality of candidates.

"If the people want good candidates then they have to get more involved," Warren said.

 

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