Familiar Faces in New Races: A Look at the Petitions | News, Sports, Jobs


A review of candidate petitions filed with the Chautauqua County Electoral Board reveals many familiar faces seeking to return to the political game in Fredonia.

The village has four seats to fill in November on its board of directors, and in addition to incumbents EvaDawn Bashaw and Roger Britz, three other Democratic petitioners are no strangers to politics.

Gregory Krauza was mayor of Dunkirk in the early 1990s, but later moved to Fredonia. He has remained active in the community but has mostly stayed away from politics – until now.

Two former village administrators join him as petitioners. Michael Barris stepped down from the board at the end of 2019 after deciding not to run again, although there were plans to fill two vacancies earlier this year. Michelle Twichell was a director in the late 2000s.

As for the Republicans, their candidates for the board of directors of Fredonia were not on the list of the Council of the elections Thursday. However, the mayor of Fredonia, Doug Essek, recently posted on Facebook a photo of himself with what he called “The future of the village council of Fredonia”, the four apparent Republican candidates. They are David Bird, Jon Espersen, William Weatherlow and Nicole Siracuse.

According to Luz Torres, Democratic commissioner of the Chautauqua County Council of Elections, candidates can be on their list not only through petitions, but also through caucuses organized by Republicans and Democrats. Republicans did not submit their caucus winners Thursday morning, but they have until July 22 to do so.

The recent history of Fredonia’s board seats is complicated. Bashaw was named to replace Essek after his mayoral election in 2019. When Barris failed to stand for re-election that year, Roger Pacos won his seat. Sadly, Pacos passed away in 2020. Scott Johnston, appointed on January 26 to take up his post, will no longer stand for re-election.

In addition to the seats now held by Johnston and Bashaw, Britz is running for re-election for another four-year term.

A position currently held by Heidi Powell will also be filled. Powell, who like Johnston has not filed any petitions to run this year, was appointed to the board in February to take the seat from Kara Christina, who has resigned.

Powell’s seat is a two-year term since Christina was elected in 2019. Johnston’s seat is also a two-year term. Bashaw’s HQ will have a four-year term, however, as Essek, whom she replaced, was initially elected as a director in 2017.

Barris and Twichell are seeking four-year terms. Bashaw could have been on the Working Families Party line for the four-year term, but refused and Britz was replaced.

However, Bashaw appears on the Democratic ballot for two-year terms, along with Krauza.

In the city of Dunkirk, the Republican candidate for the post of general councilor is David Damico, a long-time member of the Dunkirk Board of Education and its chairman since 2017. He will face Democrat Nick Weiser, professor at SUNY Fredonia. The incumbent, Republican Paul VanDenVouver, no longer shows up.

Another notable run of the Common Council will be a rematch of Don Williams and Natalie Luczkowiak. Although Williams lost a primary in June for the first Democratic Quarter Common Council nomination in Luczkowiak, the incumbent will be on the November ballot on his own People Over Politics line.

The other three city council races will see incumbent Democrat Martin Bamonto face a challenge from Linda Stolinski in Quarter 2; outgoing Republican James Stoyle taking on Democrat Phillip Collier in the Third Quarter; and Nancy Nichols, the Republican currently representing the fourth constituency, against Democrat Nanette White.

Longtime city treasurer Mark Woods – who recently saw criticism in a state audit of his bill collection policies – is the only petitioner for his post.

In Pomfret, all the incumbents of the vacant seats are running for positions again, and all are unopposed. City Supervisor Dan Pacos, City Clerk Allison Vento, Highway Superintendent Jude Gardner and City Councilors Brett Christy and Christopher Schaeffer all filed motions to represent themselves.

The supervisor of the city of Dunkirk Richard Purol is the only person to have applied for the highest position in this municipality. Shari Miller joins outgoing City Council members Juan Pagan and Robert Penharlow in bidding for seats on this panel. Two seats are up for election in November.

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