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OCT 28- NOV 05, 2014

Lewiston Democrat Chairwoman Urges Voters to End Republican Era

By Dianne Perri Roberts

October 28, 2014

Diane Perri Roberts Chair,
Lewiston Democratic Committee

The upcoming election for two members of the Lewiston Town Board is critical in shaping the future of our community and the type of government we will have.

When Town Supervisor Dennis Brochey was elected last year, he looked to end the political strangle-hold on the board that lead to an FBI public corruption investigation and a scathing report from the State Comptroller’s office on the handling of Town finances and the misuse of public property.

Former Supervisor Steve Reiter had been given free reign by the rubber stamp, all-Republican Board that permitted him to squander town money at Joseph Davis State Park—a “project” which still negatively impacts the Town’s finances—as well as wasting funds on plans for an extravagant recreation center.

Initially the Town Board planned to commit millions of dollars on the recreation center by a simple vote of the board, and only after a public outcry, did they submit the proposal to a referendum where it was soundly defeated.

Supervisor Brochey has been working tirelessly to get the Town’s finances in order and bring openness and fairness to government. But I personally have observed his frustration at meetings in accomplishing these goals because he faces a partisan clique, a voting bloc whose intent is to block the supervisor’s initiatives at nearly every step of the way. If Dennis proposes, they generally oppose. We saw this with the Artpark funding issue this year.

The results of this election will determine whether blind partisanship will continue.

In one race, for a one year term, Keith "Casey" Ahlas is up against William Conrad, the choice of the Republican board members to fill the seat vacated by the resignation of Ernest Palmer earlier this year.

In the other race, David Sanchez is running against Beth Ceretto, an Independence Party member who has the Republican endorsement. That race is for a three year term to fill the seat vacated by the resignation of Michael Marra.

Beth Ceretto’s announcement said “I’m a political independent and will always vote my conscience.” But how “independent” is Beth Ceretto?

When she was an executive officer of the Independence Party she signed off on the Independence party’s endorsement of Reiter and his all Republican Board—the same board that brought four years of financial activity which lead to the June 2013 FBI investigation at Town Hall.

She actively sought the Republican endorsement for this very race. In fact when seeking the nomination of the Lewiston Town and Village Republicans, Beth Ceretto wrote a letter (of which I have a copy) that dispels any notion of her “independence.” She said if she received the nomination, “I promise I will uphold the values and beliefs of the Republican Party.”


She offers an oath of loyalty to the Republican Party instead of a pledge to work independently for the best interests of the people of Lewiston.

There should be no doubt that Beth is aligned with the Republicans that want to curb Dennis Brochey’s reforms and continue the cronyism and backroom deals that poison politics in Lewiston.

The candidate’s own words say it all.

I can assure you the Democratic Party has not required such a partisan promise from its candidates. We want good people who will make sound decisions based on the facts, not on party allegiance.

David Sanchez is an attorney whose views are truly independent. His wife is known to those whose children attended Lewiston-Porter High School. He has a young daughter and wants to keep this community flourishing. He wants to work hard for the entire community, with all people regardless of their political affiliations. Lewiston needs change, not one-party rule.

Keith Ahlas is a newcomer to politics and has plenty of ideas about how to make Lewiston a better place. He works for a customs brokerage firm and has considerable experience in handling financial data.

His opponent William Conrad is a former member and president of the Niagara Wheatfield Board of Education, and also was the District’s Audit Chairperson. Public records reveal that during his tenure the School District experienced serious financial difficulties, including internal audit findings that the District’s 2010-2011 budget was out of balance (using more fund balances than the district had), there was overspending of bonds on capital projects, and the District had significant deficiencies in internal controls (Niagara Gazette, 12/7/10).

Conrad was defeated in 2011; when a new school board took over, they had to deal with a $10.8 million dollar deficit. Taxes were raised by over 14%, and numerous teachers and support staff were laid off. That kind of record is not what the Town of Lewiston needs.

Dennis Brochey has proposed a new budget for Lewiston that holds the line on taxes. Difficult choices have to be made and we need members of the Town Board that will work together to keep Lewiston fiscally healthy. David Sanchez and Keith Ahlas want to end the blind partisanship and bring better days to Lewiston.





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