Saturday March 2, 2013

NEWFANE -- Three, two and one are the applicable numbers in a contested race for Newfane Selectboard.

There are three candidates for two available one-year seats on the board. And all three candidates -- Christine Druke, Michael Fitzpatrick and Chris Williams -- have some town governance experience on their resumes.

Druke is an incumbent who is finishing a one-year Selectboard term. The owner of Druke Insurance Agency acknowledges that she initially wavered when considering whether she would pursue a second term.

But her deep involvement in sifting through and organizing the town's Tropical Storm Irene-related spending was the deciding factor.

"The reason I'm running is to follow through with the work I need to do," Druke said.

Specifically, she has been working to account for all of the town's reimbursable expenses under Federal Emergency Management Agency guidelines. Such work is critical for preparing for audits of the town's finances, Druke said.

"I feel really strongly that this is my town, and I want to see this through and see that we're on stable footing," Druke said. "We need to make sure that all of our financials are laid out and are very, very transparent."

Fitzpatrick has Selectboard experience, but in another town: He served on Wardsboro's board before moving to Newfane about nine years ago.

His family operates Fitzpatrick Excavating, and Fitzpatrick said his experience as a local contractor would be an asset on Newfane Selectboard.

"I know a lot about construction and roads," Fitzpatrick said. "I think I could be a big help in that way."

Fitzpatrick's company has performed work for the town, and he said he understands that he would have to recuse himself from debates and votes on jobs he has bid on.

He also said he is adept at working with different personalities on sometimes-contentious issues.

"I can get along with most anybody," Fitzpatrick said. "You just have to work through it."

Williams also has road-related experience. He is a past member of Newfane Selectboard -- he estimates he served about eight years total -- and currently serves as the town's road commissioner.

Williams, who works for a local contractor, said he stops at the town garage each morning. And he believes the town must make bridge and road maintenance a higher priority.

"We have some very serious bridge problems in the town of Newfane," Williams said. "I'd like to try to get some things working on that."

Williams also has deep roots in the community: His family founded Williamsville generations ago.

"I've lived in this town for 64 years. I know what goes on," he said. "I've seen people come, and I've seen people go."

One additional Selectboard seat is available. Incumbent Todd Lawley, who also serves as the town road foreman, is the sole candidate on the ballot for a three-year term.

There is one other contested race in Newfane, with Town Treasurer Maureen Albert-Piascik facing a challenge from Merle Tessier. Albert-Piascik, who also is running unopposed for delinquent tax collector and town school treasurer, has been town treasurer for nine years.

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.