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Amherst town clerk resigning to take job at UB, sparking Collins speculation

Marjory Jaeger

Amherst Town Clerk Marjory Jaeger is resigning her position to take a job with the University at Buffalo.

Jaeger sent a one-sentence letter to state, county and town officials this morning stating that her resignation is effective Sept. 18.

In a longer note to her supporters, also provided to The Buffalo News, Jaeger said she had sought new opportunities in advance of the end of her tenure as town clerk in 2019. Term limits bar Jaeger from running for re-election next year.

The announcement immediately stirred speculation that indicted Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, could use this vacancy to get off the ballot for re-election and make way for a Republican successor. But local Republicans said the timing of Jaeger's resignation and new job is coincidental.

Jaeger said she has accepted a job in UB's office of Environment, Health and Safety Services as drill coordinator and fire safety inspector. She is a longtime volunteer and officer with the Williamsville Fire Department.

"I am very excited to begin this new chapter of my life," said Jaeger, who added that she will remain an active member of the Amherst community.

The Town Board will appoint someone to take Jaeger's place as town clerk through the end of this year. Jaeger said that, for the sake of continuity, she is recommending the board appoint Deputy Town Clerk Kathleen Cooper.

"I would argue that someone from the outside would have a very difficult time walking in cold," Jaeger said in an email. "School tax collection is set to begin in the next couple of weeks – it requires familiarity with our software and banking procedures."

The town will hold a special election in November to fill the last year of Jaeger's term, and whoever wins that race will have to run again in November 2019 for a full four-year term. The position pays $82,000 per year.

Jaeger, 47, is a lifelong town resident and Amherst High School graduate with a bachelor's degree in political science from UB.

She lost her first bid for town clerk in 2008, but she won the job in 2011 and again in 2015. Prior to that she worked on grants and payroll as a staff assistant in the university’s police department.

Jaeger, a registered Conservative, ran for Amherst supervisor in 2017 but lost to Democrat Brian Kulpa, the Williamsville mayor.

The reason political observers picked up on Jaeger's announcement is because Collins can't replace a candidate for office who is up for re-election this year. Collins has to move into a race that wasn't supposed to be on the ballot this fall.

The only three such races are for Eden town clerk, Eden assessor and, now, Amherst town clerk. State law holds that Collins would have to establish residency in Eden or Amherst by Election Day.

Jaeger's UB job was in the works well before Collins' Aug. 8 indictment on insider trading charges and his announcement, several days later, that he was suspending his campaign.

Another officer holder presumably could give up his or her seat to make way for Collins, with many eyeing Clarence because Collins already is a resident there.

As for the Amherst town clerk position, names of potential candidates for a special election already are floating around.

On the Democratic side, they include Deputy Town Supervisor Francina Spoth, County Legislator Tom Loughran and Steve Meyer, a one-time state Assembly candidate and former executive director of the Erie County Democratic Committee. On the Republican side, possibilities include Steven Sanders and Guy Marlette, both former deputy town supervisors, and Erin Baker Langworthy and Joseph Spino, who both unsuccessfully ran for Town Board last year.

"All options are on the table at this point," said Joseph Heins, the town Republican chairman, declining to comment on any names.

A primer on the Amherst supervisor candidates

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