Weekly Feature

2017-11-01 / Local News

Meet the Local Candidates

Steve Cichon
County Clerk candidate


I’m Steve Cichon, and I’m running for Erie County clerk.

Like you, I’ve never run for office or been involved with politics.

Spending nearly two decades as a journalist and news director at WBEN Radio,
Cichon Cichon I learned about the issues facing the people of Erie County while holding politicians accountable. I started working at WBEN at the age of 15 while attending Orchard Park High School and then UB. My wife, Monica, and I have lived in North Buffalo near the zoo since 2000.

I’m also the author of five books on Western New York’s history and an adjunct professor at Medaille College.

I’ve spent most of 2017 traveling every inch of Erie County, meeting thousands of people and preparing a plan for positive change in county government, making the services offered by the clerk more efficient and easier to use.

My online renewal program for driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations will help save time and keep more of our money here in Erie County to fix roads and bridges, while making lines shorter for the rest of us who want face-to-face service at the Auto Bureau.

And on day one, we’ll begin implementing efficiencies in the pistol permit process, which now takes up to 700 percent longer in Erie County than in surrounding counties.

Along with more comfortable seating at our auto bureaus and better service for our veterans and those with disabilities, I will bring private sector common sense and a new voice to the clerk’s office.

Kearns Kearns Michael Kearns
County Clerk candidate

R, C, I, REF

As a cross-endorsed assemblyman, I have always been an independent voice, fighting against corruption in Albany and advocating for our community’s most vulnerable.

A Buffalo native, I earned my bachelor’s degree at Canisius College and afterward returned to school at Erie Community College for paralegal studies. I have 14 years’ experience in the private sector and over a decade in public service.

I sponsored legislation to keep the WNY Children’s Psychiatric Center open, led the charge in Erie County to combat “zombie” properties and fought to regain funding cut from our special needs community.

As county clerk, my goal is to provide premier customer service to all residents, hold banks accountable for “zombie property” foreclosures, and increase organ donations to help save lives.

As a supporter of our Second Amendment, I believe that the pistol permit process needs to be assessed and reviewed in order to become more efficient while maintaining safety and quality.

I believe we need to continue finding local solutions for local problems. As an assemblyman, I have been fighting for Western New York, and I would be honored to continue the work I have started as your next county clerk.

During my time in Albany, I worked to increase organ donations, challenged big banks on “zombie properties.” and fostered public-private partnerships for community development including parks, libraries and community centers.

I want to continue putting my 14 years of private-sector, and 12 years of public service experience to work for the taxpayers of Erie County.

Vanessa Glushefski
Glushefski Glushefski
Comptroller candidate


I am running for county comptroller because I believe our tax dollars should work for us.

As a CPA and an attorney, I looked at our current budget and auditing practices and I knew there was much more to be done to keep our county a vibrant place to live.

I received a Bachelor of Business Administration in accountancy from the City University of New York, Baruch College, and a Juris Doctor from the University at Buffalo Law School. I graduated with high honors from both programs.

I have an extensive background in public service, and I bring a thorough knowledge of finance and the law to overseeing our county’s budget.

One of my first goals in office will be to make sure our money works for us by reinvesting our cash reserves at a higher yield. Then I plan to identify and eliminate wasteful spending across the county through audits that matter. That additional revenue could help fund programs like child care subsidies, library expansions and cultural organizations.

Taxpayer money should improve the lives of our residents, and I will serve families in our community first and foremost.

To date, I have been endorsed by 10 labor unions and will fight for workers. And as your next comptroller, I will strive every day to make our communities safer and more equitable for everyone. I have the knowledge to get the job done and the vision to truly serve the people of Erie County.

Stefan Mychajliw
Mychajliw Mychajliw
Comptroller candidate

R, C, I, REF

I am running for re-election for what I consider to be one of the greatest jobs in the world, Erie County comptroller.

Next to being a husband to my wife, Ashley, and a father to Mia and our baby on the way, it is my greatest honor.

I go to work every day with the goal of reporting, tracking and monitoring your tax dollars to identify and stop waste, fraud and abuse.

We can all see that our region is in the midst of a recovery. We see it with new jobs, more opportunity and folks coming home.

This isn’t the result of the politicians. It’s the taxpayers that are the engine for this economic recovery.

As comptroller, I am the taxpayer’s watchdog, and it is my job to make sure [the politicians] don’t screw it up. It doesn’t matter to me who it is. I hold everyone accountable because my mission is public service and respect for taxpayers.

I have delivered transparency and strong checks and balances to county government. I started by auditing myself first and putting our banking business out to bid.

I am the first comptroller to win a national award for creating an easy- to-understand version of the county’s $1.7 billion budget. I created the “Taxpayers Checkbook and Credit Card” and am the first comptroller to post our debt and expenses publicly.

I love working for taxpayers, and I love serving this community.

I humbly ask for your support on Election Day. I won’t let you down.

Howard Howard Timothy Howard
County Sheriff candidate

R, C, I, REF

I have spent nearly 50 years in law enforcement and received honors for my service in fighting crime throughout our community. Throughout my career, I earned multiple promotions and achieved the fourth highest rank in the New York State Police; there I coordinated expert services in many of the state police divisions.

I brought those leadership skills to the Sheriff’s Office where I implemented many innovative programs that gained national recognition and was awarded numerous honors from law enforcement groups. But I am running for re-election to protect the citizens of Erie County.

My office was first to implement the Prescription Drug Drop-Off Program to keep unwanted prescription opiates out of the hands of children, and I was one of the first agencies to join the Opiate Task Force. I increased the size of the Narcotics Unit, and since January, my office executed more than 100 warrants, seized approximately 100 ounces of heroin/fentanyl and 250 ounces of cocaine, and recovered 44 illegally possessed firearms. I continue to work with my law enforcement partners to crack down on the deadly heroin and fentanyl trade and arrest the dealers selling this poison.

I have a master’s degree in criminal justice from the University at Albany, and I am a graduate of the FBI National Academy. I was an instructor at the State Police Academy and the Criminal Justice Program at Rochester Institute of Technology.

I am a very proud husband of a breast cancer survivor, the father of three daughters and two sons, and I have six grandchildren.

Bernie Tolbert
Tolbert Tolbert
County sheriff candidate


Our County Sheriff’s Office is in crisis. From the Holding Center to the jails, the road patrol to the deputies, every department is in dire need of strong leadership.

As a former special agent in charge of the FBI’s Buffalo office and a security executive for Coca Cola, HSBC and the National Basketball Association, I have more than 30 years of leadership experience at the highest levels of law enforcement and corporate security.

Additionally, with a master’s degree in social work and experience in education and social work, I have a unique skill set to help me right the wrongs currently plaguing the Sheriff’s Office.

When elected, I will focus on cleaning up the county jails and restoring pride and professionalism to the Sheriff’s Office. I will take an aggressive lead in combating the opioid and heroin addiction epidemic ravaging Erie County.

I will work collaboratively with all county and community agencies to turn back the tide of rising street crime, and I will restore a culture of respect and civility within all segments of the sheriff’s department.

I am a Buffalo native and attended elementary schools 31, 6 and 76. After graduating from Lafayette High School, I attended the the University at Buffalo, where I received a bachelor’s degree in 1971 and a master’s degree in social work in 1973.

I respectfully ask for your vote on Nov. 7 so that I may serve the people of Erie County and the community I am proud to call home.

Loughran Loughran Thomas Loughran
County Leg. candidate


I have lived my entire life in Amherst. I attended SS. Peter and Paul Grammar School, Williamsville South High School and the University of Buffalo, graduating with a degree in political science.

For the past 39 years, I have owned and operated a small business, Loughran’s Bar and Restaurant.

I am running for re-election to hold the line on taxes. I have never voted for a county property tax increase. I will continue to work to deliver whatever extra funds are available to our cultural assets such as MusicalFare Theatre at Daemen College, the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village, Amherst Symphony Orchestra and O’Connell and Company.

The priorities on my agenda are to assist neighborhoods with road projects and tree trimming, traffic calming, and keeping our environment clean, green and healthy. Additional priorities are funding our libraries and assuring county services are delivered to our neighbors through the Amherst Senior Center and Meals on Wheels.

Finally, looking to the future and building on my support for UB 2020, I realized that our Erie Community College North Campus was at risk for sell-off and development. I fought that idea.

Working with many others we have established a Science Technology Engineering and Math facility on the North Campus.

This is the beginning of the revitalization and modernization of Erie Community College.

An educated workforce is our greatest asset. I remind myself every day that I represent you and that it’s a privilege to have a seat at the decision making table.

Marlette Marlette Guy Marlette
County Leg. candidate

R, C, I, REF

I’m Guy Marlette, and I’m running for county legislator for the 5th District.

I was a council member of the Amherst Town Board for eight years, serving as deputy supervisor for six of those years. I am currently the vice president of Alternative Information Systems and hold an associate degree in data processing as well as numerous professional certifications.

As deputy supervisor, I provided the leadership needed as I led efforts to improve our parks and recreational areas, increased funding for our town roads, and reinvest in our neighborhoods.

I also demanded more transparency from the Amherst Industrial Development Agency and protected our neighborhoods from irresponsible property owners and development. In addition to these successes, the town lowered taxes for six straight years.

Amherst is the largest town in the county. Its residents deserve more from their county government. With tight budgets and ongoing challenges, simply showing up is not enough. Our community needs a strong and effective voice and leader in county hall.

As the Erie County tax levy continues to rise and critical roads such as Maple Road, Wehrle Drive and Eggert Road continue to decay, Amherst needs someone who is willing to fight for them, and I will do just that. Erie County needs to be more transparent with your money, and taxpayers deserve to know where their dollars are going.

As county legislator, my promise is to work hard every day for Amherst. I would be honored to serve our community and respectfully request your vote on Nov. 7.

Jaeger Jaeger Marjory Jaeger
Supervisor candidate

R, C, I, REF

I am running for Amherst town supervisor because I want to bring positive change to our town. Many residents are unhappy with the direction the town has taken in recent years and feel that their concerns are being ignored.

I have had an open door policy as your town clerk, and I pledge to bring that same availability and accountability to the Supervisor’s Office.

As town clerk, I accept, disburse and balance $300 million. My office is the heart of the town. Every resolution, official record, budget amendment and filing passes across my desk. No other position provides the same level of relevant experience needed to be town supervisor. I am ready to lead on day one.

As supervisor, I will:

• Preserve our green space by concentrating on redevelopment of existing commercial properties.

• Hold the line on taxes.

• Solve our traffic problems.

• Protect our vital services.

Raised in Amherst, I attended Smallwood Elementary, Amherst High School and graduated from the University at Buffalo.

I am a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician with the Williamsville Fire Department and am also a member of the board of directors for Amherst Meals on Wheels.

Amherst has world class parks, great services, an excellent Police Department and wonderful residents who make this town a success.

As your next town supervisor, you have my full-time experience and my full-time guarantee that I will protect and preserve our quality of life.

Kulpa Kulpa Brian Kulpa
Supervisor candidate

D, G, W, WEP

Growing up in Western New York, I’ve experienced our tough economic conditions. Given options to leave the region after I graduated from St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, I decided to instead invest myself in the places that I love.

At the University at Buffalo, I turned my attention from an affinity for great architecture to a broader understanding of what it means to create great places in urban and suburban settings and earned masters’ degrees in architecture and urban and regional planning in 2003.

Today, I am a senior associate architect and planner with Clark Patterson Lee. I am blessed to have a wonderful wife, Kate, and two children. We call the Village of Williamsville home; it’s a place that I have cherished.

As mayor for the past six years, I have been able to push for a better Main Street, restore the Water Mill and return it to the tax rolls, commit to excellence in environmental construction on Spring Street, consolidate water and reduce taxes.

As Amherst town supervisor, I will revise the town’s internal organization and address the lack of financial forecasting to create a better vision of where we are heading.

I will work with individual neighborhoods to create plans ensuring responsible redevelopment and protection of our flood plains and green space.

I will insist upon townwide traffic and transportation planning and create a proactive government that will result in lower taxes and a better place to live.

I will be a full-time supervisor, serving all the people of Amherst.

Baker Baker Erin Baker
Council candidate

R, C, I, REF

I am running for Amherst Town Board to restore fiscal responsibility to the Town of Amherst. The current Town Board raised its own pay by 40 percent — and raised taxes to do it. That is not good government.

If elected, I commit to be the taxpayer’s watchdog while working tirelessly to maintain the excellent services we’ve come to expect.

My goal is to make sure that Amherst remains an affordable place to live, work and raise a family. As a mother, the quality of life and safety of our community is my highest priority.

I want to address the town’s substantial traffic problems, redevelop existing commercial areas, protect green space and invest in our town parks.

I graduated from Canisius College in 2006 and moved to Washington, D.C., to work on Capitol Hill for U.S. Rep. Tom Reynolds. I returned to WNY to be closer to family and was hired by the Hunter’s Hope Foundation to work for Jim and Jill Kelly.

In 2011, I accepted the position of chief of staff to Assemblyman Ray Walter, where I have had the privilege of serving the residents of Amherst for nearly six years.

It has been an honor to serve the people of Amherst at the federal and state level and I want to use that experience, along with an enthusiastic new vision, to build a brighter future for the Town of Amherst.

I live in Snyder with my husband, Nicholas, and our 3-year-old daughter, Madeline.

Berger Berger Jacqualine Berger
Council candidate

D, G, W, WEP

I am Jacqualine “Jacqui” Berger, candidate for the Amherst Town Board, a 30-year resident of Amherst, where I chose to raise my family.

I am a mentor/faculty member at SUNY Empire State College. I have a Master of Education degree in early childhood and special education from Tulane University.

As a volunteer, I have for 28 years run Challenger baseball programs in Amherst for children and adults with disabilities. I have years of experience as a board member and leader for national, regional, local, professional and community groups.

I have spent my life speaking up and fighting for the voiceless. I will bring my energy and expertise to our town government.

Amherst is a great place to live, and I will be a champion to keep it that way. Our town government needs to be transparent, open and responsive to the community.

I will hold meetings and seek input on issues and policies throughout the town to ensure all residents have a voice. I want to increase ethics disclosures for town officials. We need to fully fund our senior services, police and parks as well as hold the line on taxes and spending.

Our town needs a comprehensive long-term plan for development, redevelopment, and transportation that puts the residents first.

We need responsible development that keeps neighborhoods at the forefront while improving infrastructure and protecting green space. Residents and neighbors should come before developers.

I would be honored to receive your vote for a seat on the Amherst Town Board.

Kindel Kindel William Kindel
Council candidate


I grew up in the Lovejoy area of Buffalo and settled in Amherst in 1965. I attended the University of Buffalo and played football for the four years I attended.

In 1955, I earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

In 1970, I began my life work in public service, beginning as the chairman for the Amherst GOP.

I served on the Planning Board from 1977 to 1980. In 1980, I co-founded the SouthEast Amherst Homeowners Association, which included 500 members, and defeated the Diesel Truck proposal on the current site of College Park.

Also in 1980, I first ran for Amherst Town Board. Through projects such as the preservation of the Great Baehre Swamp and Billy Wilson Park, as well as saving and preserving the land at Nature View Park, I was able to protect land that would otherwise have been developed, saving it for future generations of residents to enjoy.

I am the current chairman of the Amherst Conservative Party and am retired from my career in industrial sales. My wife, Maureen, and I raised three children in Amherst, and have five grandchildren residing in the United States and Israel.

Shawn Lavin
Council candidate
Lavin Lavin

D, G, W, WEP

As we approach Election Day this November, I would like to share how my experience and education have prepared me to serve this community as a member of the Amherst Town Board.

Currently, I work as a senior special investigator for the Office of Medicaid Inspector General, in which I audit Medicaid providers against New York State compliance standards.

Additionally, I serve as a lieutenant in the Air National Guard 107th Attack Wing, where I supervise a team that responds to national calamities alongside the Homeland Emergency Response Force. Prior to my current profession, I worked as an account executive for Paychex Inc.

I hold a master’s degree in public administration from SUNY Brockport.

I am seeking office because I know we can do better in Amherst. I intend to bring my commitment to public service, leadership ability and attention to detail to the job.

Working collaboratively in an open and transparent environment, we can achieve a greater result. Aging infrastructure, development of green space, housing reassessment and a transparent government are just some of the concerns that I have spent the summer addressing with residents, and it is those concerns that I will make a priority if elected.

I believe current residents need to be incorporated into Amherst’s future.

If elected, I intend to provide a voice for Amherst residents and will work tirelessly to make sure that Amherst ranks among the best communities in which to live.

Please consider me when casting your ballot on Nov. 7.

Spino Spino Joseph Spino
Council candidate


As a longtime resident of Amherst, I care deeply about its future, and that’s why I’m running for Town Board.

I grew up in the town and attended Williamsville schools through high school. I graduated from St. Bonaventure with a master’s degree in business administration and a degree in accounting.

I have extensive experience that will benefit the taxpayers of Amherst. As a former county budget analyst and now a project manager for the District Attorney’s Office, I am an expert in municipal finance and fiscal management. I will be an advocate for the Amherst taxpayer, ensuring the town is spending your tax dollars wisely.

In addition, I am active in several community nonprofits, currently serving as chairman of Greater Buffalo Friends of Music, which provides music and music education to the youth of Western New York.

My goal is to correct the lack of investment in our town’s infrastructure. I will work to implement critical improvements to our roads, parks and sewer systems, and am proposing a comprehensive traffic study to find real solutions for our congested roads.

In addition, I will advocate for the strategic redevelopment of our town’s underutilized commercial areas.

I believe in fully supporting our police and fire services, and will ensure the town continues to invest in the needs of our public safety personnel. I’ll make sure they remain safe while keeping us safe.

I believe my experience and my vision are something all town residents can be proud of, and I hope to earn your vote on Election Day.

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