Niagara Falls Reporter
Home | Archive / Search
SEP 30- OCT 07, 2014

Lewiston Council Races May Boil Down to Trust, Personality, or Giving Dem Majority to Brochey

By Anna M. Howard

September 30, 2014

David Sanchez (D) will face Beth Ceretto (I)

In the Town of Lewiston, the council races are finally set for the two open board seats left by the resignations of former Councilmen Ernest Palmer and Michael Marra.

Republican candidate William Conrad will face off against Democratic challenger Keith Ahlas for the seat vacated by Palmer.

With Palmer having less than two years left in his term, the winner of that race will have to run again in 2015 to seek a full four-year term.

In the other race, Beth Ceretto and David Sanchez will be vying for the balance of the term vacated by Marra. The winner will serve another three years before having to face re-election.

William Conrad (R) will face Keith Ahlas (D)

In light of the fact that these will be the first elections after the end of two eras in town and county politics, it should be an interesting election.

The political influence of former Town Supervisor Steve Reiter ended with his loss in last year's primary, and the almost legendary George Maziarz- era of Republican politics may have ended with his decision not to seek re-election this year.

For the first time in many years an election will be held in Lewiston that is free of either of their influences.

On the Democratic side, there is a possibility that the candidates may try to highlight the past actions of the Reiter administration. That strategy worked well for current Supervisor Dennis Brochey when he ran against Palmer last year. The argument only goes so far.

The only two holdovers from the Reiter administration, Al Bax and Ron Winkley, aren't running for re-election.

That means newcomers Ahlas and Sanchez are running against opponents not tied to the Reiter past.

Arguments also can't be rightly made about a Republican candidate being part of the Maziarz machine.

One issue that seemed solid earlier this year was that the town had been driven deeply into debt by Reiter & Co.

Brochey and Finance Director Paul Koosterman warned of a $500,000 budget shortfall that perhaps led the average voter to think the town's finances were in shambles.

After the town's outside accountant Pat Brown released his annual independent audit of town finances, it turned out that things weren't quite as dire as first perceived. Brown said that while the town must be careful with its future spending, (and it obviously hadn't been too careful under Reiter), its debt was not overwhelming and its bond rating was still excellent.

It was odd: Republicans under Reiter were acting like spend and tax Democrats and Brochey sounded more like a conservative Republican.

Brochey sounded an intelligent, reasoned alarm about overspending, yet following Brown's report, the truth winds up a little closer to the middle.

All of the candidates, therefore, may find that their biggest challenge will be in finding some fresh issue that voters can identify with.

So far, all we have seen in campaign announcements are more or less the same five words: "accountability, transparency and fiscal responsibility."

Perhaps one of the reasons there isn't much to campaign on is there are no incumbents in the race. It's hard to run a negative campaign against someone who has no past record.

With almost no difference on issues - all four candidates are advocating the same things -the races may turn on voters choosing someone they think they can trust and identify with.

Conrad is a registered architect and career military man who retired with the rank of major. He is a resident of Sanborn and has been on numerous boards and committees, including the town's Zoning Board of Appeals and the Niagara-Wheatfield Board of Education. He was unanimously approved by the Town of Lewiston Town Board in late March to succeed Palmer and while he has been involved in the local political scene for a few years, this is only the second time he has held public office. He served as the chairman of the Niagara-Wheatfield Board of Education. He and his wife have been foster or adoptive parents to dozens of children. When the suit and tie comes off, he rides a Harley and shows up at almost all of the community events.

Democrat Keith Ahlas is a true newcomer to politics. Like Brochey and Winkley, he and his wife are Village of Lewiston residents and he has one stepson. Like many newcomers to politics, he says that he was drawn to run for office because he is disenchanted with the entire political process and thinks things can be done better. One of his concerns is the lack of parking spaces in the village and the town, being especially sensitive to the issue of handicap parking because of being handicapped himself. . He is employed as an analyst with a customs brokerage firm. His Facebook page reveals a bit about the man and may give the average voter a bit more insight into his thoughts and personality.

David Sanchez is an attorney specializing in matrimonial law and works for his father's law firm in Buffalo. He views Lewiston as his "adoptive home" and is married to a teacher in the Lewiston Porter School District. They have one child. He is an active member of the Niagara Falls Country Club and recently was one of the sponsors of the Porter Cup Golf Tournament. He said he wants to use his talents to make Lewiston "a better place for families, individuals and businesses to continue to grow and thrive." He previously made an unsuccessful run for town board but, as an endorsed Democratic candidate, he is ready to test the waters again.

Beth Ceretto rounds out the field for this year's election. She is married to New York State Assemblyman John Ceretto, but is well known in the community in her own right. She owns a daycare business and has worked for and belongs to numerous civic and charitable groups and currently is the vice president of Lewiston 2 Fire Company. Unlike her husband who is a Republican, Beth is a registered member of the Independence Party and previously served as party chairwoman. She sought and received the endorsement of her own party, along with the Republican and Conservative parties.

She is the mother of four grown children and has said she wanted to get involved in town government for a long time. Now that her children are grown, she says, she is going to try to take the opportunity to do so. She said she thinks she can bring balance to the town board to help find common sense solutions to the town's different problems.

So, while their platforms and agendas are almost identical, there are differences between the candidates in lifestyle and life experiences.

As for an issue to consider: Democrats have been saying since January that Brochey needs Democratic councilmen to help him bring about change at Town Hall. The Democrats have to win both elections to give Brochey a majority of Democrats on the council.

If nothing else, voters may want to decide whether to turn the council over to Democrats or keep it under Republican control - now sans Maziarz and Reiter influences.





Read It and Weep: Controller's Report Reflects Drop in Casino Cash
Casino Revenue Cut by $1.4 Million; Dyster Wants $1.5 Million for State
USA Niagara Gets A $500,000 Spike in Management Fees From Casino Cash.... But Why?
With Dyster's Planned City Share of Casino Cash Going to State, Change Will Be Enormous
New Use for Totes Discovered in Falls
New Info Emerges: County GOP Crafted RFQ to Meet Size Requirements Larger than Needed, But Exactly the Space Ulrich had Available There's enough extra space to have a disco, yet county taxpayers pay for it, and the utilities
From the Publisher
Arnold Calls for End to Maziarz Rule, Endorses Destino for Senate
Dyster Administration Never Promised Us a Rose Garden
Lewiston Council Races May Boil Down to Trust, Personality, or Giving Dem Majority to Brochey
Support for South Junior 'Poorly' Thought Out Development Effort Based on 'Poor' Planning
Anello, Darro, Paonessa Are the Talk of the Town
Maziarz Appears at Pendleton Historic Event, Honoring Founding of the Township With Marker
Why is America a Republic and Not a Democracy?
Dead Ducks: DEC Announces Release of Pheasants for Hunting Season
Governor Debate in Buffalo: Green Party's Hawkins Wants More Debates, Cites Jesse Ventura's seven debates and upset victory
New Pictorial Book on Tonawanda and North Tonawanda: 1940-1960
Rebutting Critics and Al Gore, 'There Has Been No Global Warming in 18 Years'
CWM District Manager Cites Reasons for, Rebuts Arguments Against CWM Expansion
Letters to the Editor
Local Talk Show Jokes, Not Nice and Not Funny

Contact Info

©2014 The Niagara Falls Reporter Inc.
POB 3083, Niagara Falls, N.Y. 14304
Phone: (716) 284-5595

Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
Managing Editor: Dr. Chitra Selvaraj
Senior Editor: Tony Farina