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GOP looks to take back Lancaster clerk's office for first time in over 50 years

Lancaster Democrats have controlled the office of town clerk since 1966 when Republican Lucian A. Ferbet ended his 16-year run in the office.

If they are going to continue that run, it will come with a fight that follows a bruising primary and campaign season.

Incumbent Diane M. Terranova, a lifelong Democrat who worked in the clerk's office since 2005, lost her party's endorsement this year to Cynthia A. Maciejewski. Terranova got the Lancaster Republican Committee endorsement, but ended up with the Democratic line anyway when she won the primary. She also won a primary for the Conservative line.

Terranova, 62, lost the Republican primary to Anne V. Desiderio, 55, who captured 71% of the GOP vote.

Desiderio is a political newcomer and was supported by the state committee of the Independence Party in the primary. A lifelong Republican, Desiderio served 25 years in the health-service industry. She is married to Robert L. Desiderio, a restaurateur, and they have three children.

The town clerk is Lancaster’s highest paid elected town official, with a salary of $85,692. The clerk’s office is responsible for maintaining town records, issuing various licenses, collecting taxes and assessments, and paying all claims.

Diane Terranova

Maciejewski, a clerk in the Lancaster Building Department, won the Working Family Party endorsement but is not actively campaigning in the general election.

During Terranova’s term, the clerk’s office introduced a website and newsletter, and instituted advanced software to facilitate the process of tax collection. Terranova also extended office hours to 5 p.m. daily to allow residents time after work to obtain services. She supervises a staff of eight.

She is a licensed optician and certified holistic health coach. She has three children and six grandchildren.

Desiderio works as a senior patient access representative for a major medical provider/health care institution. She serves as a liaison between patients, physicians and insurance companies, and helps to navigate treatments issues, insurance coverage and reimbursement eligibility.

“I document events and maintain records regularly for medical institutions, insurance companies and private citizens for the last 25 years,” Desiderio said. “My employer has recognized my work and my abilities with our company’s ‘Integrity Award.’ ”

Desiderio is looking to expand the clerk’s office hours, pursue online issuing of dog licenses and explore the feasibility of expanding online servicing for other licensing applications.

Voter Guide: Election Day 2019 in Buffalo Niagara

“I won’t be a silent voice who claims they have no responsibility to taxpayers and only speaks up when there is a new fee to collect,” Desiderio said. “The best interests of all Lancaster residents will always be my top priority."

Anne V. Desiderio

During the campaign, Desiderio demanded the Lancaster Town Board repeal the $5-per-bag garbage fee for additional non-food waste. The bag fee took effect Feb. 1 as part of the town’s new waste and recycling program with Waste Management.

Terranova responded by pointing to the provision in New York State Consolidated Laws, Town Law, that the supervisor and Town Board have the legislative powers to change a local law or a contract with an outside vendor – not the town clerk.

The $5 bag fee remains in place.

Desiderio has various judgments against her in State Supreme Court and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. She settled two separate judgments in connection with nonpayment of taxes and breach of contract between 2009 and 2012, according to documents on file with the Erie County Clerk’s Office.

In both cases, she made complete restitution, said Ralph M. Mohr, campaign spokesman and Republican commissioner of the Erie County Board of Elections.

A state tax judgment against Desiderio and her husband was filed in the amount of $1,209 on Dec. 31, 2009. A tax warrant in the amount of $1,724.71 issued by the state deputy tax commissioner was received on Oct. 29, 2011, by the Erie County clerk.

Desiderio also was determined by Erie County Supreme State Court to have breached two contracts for nonpayment of an amount exceeding $5,000 in 2012.

Desiderio was traveling to an out-of-town wedding and was not available to comment.

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