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Kulpa elected Amherst town supervisor as Democrats win full control of board

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LOCAL tolbert  HICKEY

Williamsville Mayor Brian J. Kulpa will be the next Amherst town supervisor. (John Hickey / Buffalo News)

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Amherst voters on Tuesday gave Williamsville Mayor Brian J. Kulpa a promotion to town supervisor, as Democrats gained full control of the five-member Town Board.

On Jan. 1 Kulpa will go from representing the roughly 5,200 residents of the village to representing the nearly 126,000 residents in the entire town.

Kulpa said he felt he was the "underdog" entering the race, and he overcame the name recognition of his opponent, Town Clerk Marjory H. Jaeger, who twice won a townwide election to her office.

A self-described "policy wonk," Kulpa burnished his credentials as an architect and urban planner, which resonated with voters as the town seeks to limit new building and focus on redevelopment.

"I think it was my experience and the idea that we're really going to get into an understanding of the town's systems," he said late Tuesday. "We're not just going to accept business as usual. We're going to figure out how to make things better."

He also won almost exclusively on the strength of his Democratic ballot line, with a smattering of votes from three minor party lines.

The hard-fought supervisor's race was a choice between two Williamsville residents who are practically neighbors. Kulpa, 39, ran on the slogan "Professionalism, not politics" and pointed to his "proven track record" as mayor since 2012.

[Complete Erie County election results]

Jaeger, 46, also a village firefighter and EMT, promised to bring her "Full time experience" from the clerk's office down the hall to the supervisor's office.

Outgoing supervisor Barry A. Weinstein supported Jaeger, a fellow Conservative, but said he did not get too involved in the race.

"I think the town would be in good hands with either one of them," he said Tuesday.

For two Town Board seats, voters selected Democrats Jacqualine G. Berger and Shawn A. Lavin from a field of five candidates. They denied a seat to Erin K. Baker, chief of staff to Assemblyman Ray Walter and wife of Erie County Republican Committee Chairman Nicholas A. Langworthy. Baker raised over $89,000 in her unsuccessful effort.

Berger, an Empire State College mentor, and Lavin, an Air National Guard lieutenant, will replace Deputy Supervisor Steven D. Sanders, a Republican who is term limited, and Ramona D. Popowich, a Democrat who decided not to seek a second term.

Council members Deborah Bruch Bucki and Francina J. Spoth, both Democrats, still have two years left on their terms.

"I wish the victors well," said Bucki, who will be the board's senior member in 2018. "I'm happy to work with them. I hope they realize it's the opportunity of a lifetime to do good for the Town of Amherst."

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