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AUGUST 25 - SEP 01, 2015

Candidates Round-Up for This Election Season Dyster’s Not the Only One Fighting for His Political Life

By Deborah Eddel

August 25, 2015

Roger Sherrie
Art Pappas - for Mayor of North Tonawanda
Mike Pillot makes his third run for mayor
Joe Jastrzemski with retiring Wayne Jagow
Two Democrats: Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster and County Clerk candidate Jamie Moxham



The Niagara Falls Reporter provides you some of the most in-depth political reporting around for the City of Niagara Falls, but the three-ring circus that the Dyster reelection effort has devolved into is only one of several big-ticket races slated for November.

Here’s a roundup of some of the other hot races around Niagara County:


County Clerk:  In April Jamie Moxham, the wife of Wilson-based attorney Walter Moxham, launched a vigorous campaign for county clerk against the Republicans’ choice: Wilson Supervisor Joe Jastrzemski.  (For those wondering, the “z” is silent.)

Jastrzemski, the handpicked choice of county GOP leaders and outgoing County Clerk Wayne F. Jagow, is popular, and has a record of success. But Moxham is spirited and organized—backed by many of the same Democrats who supported the longshot bid of Democratic Senate candidate Johnny G. Destino against Senator Rob Ortt last fall—and has been visible around the county.

Jastrzemski points to a decade in office where town finances consistently improved and spending was actually cut. And, many GOP insiders tell us that a vote for Jastrzemski is, in essence, a vote for a sixth term for the extremely well-liked Jagow, an ordained minister whose popularity is immense in most parts of the county.

At this point, most indicators point to a Jastrzemski win, but a spirited offense by Moxham makes that less than certain. Democratic insiders also point to expected heavy voting in the Niagara Falls mayoral race as a cause for optimism.


North Tonawanda:  First-term Mayor-by-appointment Arthur G. Pappas is looking to be elected in his own right this fall to the two years remaining on Mayor-turned-Senator Robert G. Ortt’s term. Pappas is being challenged by former County Legislator John Tylec. Tylec was also one of the also-rans that applied to succeed Ortt last fall.

Advantage: Pappas

While Tylec was once a formidable opponent, the Democrat brand has suffered—no, atrophied—in the Lumber City. The past five years have seen Democrats stumble as they tried to reverse their fortunes, and now every single citywide office is filled by a Republican.

Don’t expect Tylec to change that. A 2011 DWI and speeding charge in neighboring Pendleton is sure to be brought up, and really, with the exception of George W. Bush, we’re hard-pressed to think of politicians that have overcome that particular baggage. For former school administrator Tylec, it’s kryptonite.

Making matters worse for Tylec, a planned one-two punch of himself and GOP-defector and former Legislator Peter E. Smolinski has failed to emerge, after county Republicans successfully challenged not only Smolinski’s Republican petitions, but his Democratic ones as well—a challenge that was upheld on appeal.

Elsewhere, the GOP is expected to sweep city offices, and with two of three NT-based county legislators having seen their opponents knocked off the ballot, the Party of Lincoln is set for a big night here.

Incidentally, that pleases at least one GOP operative we spoke to, who noted that a big night for the GOP in NT will help cement the party’s efforts to elect Jastrzemski, who hails from there originally and is expected to do well in the heavily-Polish community.


Lockport:  If the GOP has staked out winning territory in North Tonawanda, it has been dealt some setbacks in Lockport—a city where the party was ancestrally dominant and where Republicans still control nearly every office.

In the Lock City, fortunes are flagging for the Republicans. Another appointed GOP mayor—Anne McCaffrey, the alderwoman and council president who stumbled into the city’s mayor’s office after former Mayor Mike Tucker imploded—faces the winner of a two-way Democratic primary and possible an independent bid by the 18-year-old son of the former city engineer.

Mike Pillot, one of two Democrats seeking to face off against McCaffrey, is a two-time loser who was badly beaten—twice!—by the scandal-plagued Tucker. Her other possible opponent, Roger Sherrie, is a former CSEA union official who once wielded a great deal of influence in Lockport politics.

However, even Sherrie is climbing a steep hill. GOP insiders say that, despite the challenges facing the city, McCaffrey is strong in polling and likely to retain her seat.

Advantage: McCaffrey

McCaffrey’s victory celebration may be short-live if she wins in November, however.

With all six seats on the Lock City’s Common Council up for grabs, McCaffrey needs no fewer than three seats to govern—and realistically needs four, or she will be casting tie-breaking votes for the next two years.

Most insiders we spoke to agree that McCaffrey’s longtime ally, 3rd Ward Alderwoman Kitty Fogle, is the most vulnerable Republican. With city firefighter Mark Devine primarying Fogle on the Republican line, and Democrats waiting in the wings, the outspoken alderwoman—whose public tangle with City Treasurer Mike White generated headlines—may have seen her goose cooked.

Republicans take solace, though, in knowing that 2nd Ward Alderwoman Anita Mullane is even more vulnerable, having been elected by a scant three-vote margin in a special election a year ago. With five wards being contested, as well as the alderman-at-large and city treasurer posts, Mullane may find resources aren’t as readily available. And, with a decided GOP enrollment edge in the 2nd Ward, she is extremely vulnerable to a challenge by political newcomer and civic volunteer Maria Updegraph.

Both sides are uncertain of the outcome of other races in the city, though most expect 5th Ward candidate Allan Jack to win. Democrats, meanwhile, are increasingly bullish about their chances in the 1st Ward, where GOP-backed candidate Jennifer D’Andrea-Terreri has seen her campaign sputter over her late move to the ward she hopes to represent.  In the 4th Ward, meanwhile, veteran politician Pat Schrader faces off against Air Force veteran Dave Wohleben in a shootout.

Indications are the GOP is likely to net three of the five alderman slots, and the GOP is pinning its hopes on a win by incumbent Alderman-at-Large Joe Kibler to get to four. The heavy-set, white-haired Kibler faces a spirited contest—a first for the popular figure—against Democrat Joe O’Shaughnessy—a heavy-set, white-haired golf pro. Most give the incumbent a narrow edge here, but Lockport Republicans are expected to be holding their breath on election night.


NEXT WEEK: We analyze races from towns around Niagara County.





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