Tonawanda News

Local News

November 6, 2013

Four fresh faces on city's council|

(Continued)

Tonawanda News — Four votes are required to sell the land, and the project may rest with the current council and Gilbert, who is slated to take over the vacant First Ward seat starting this month. 

Gilbert, a one-term councilman and electrician, and Brunner, a former director of a housing nonprofit in Buffalo, faced off over flooding problems in the city. Residents in the area have had sewer flooding frequently for years, but the city’s revamping of infrastructure won’t take place in 2015. Work is now taking place near the Spaulding Fiber site and the Little League Drive property instead.

Brunner argued that the city should be paying closer attention to the First Ward, while Gilbert said the current plan is necessary for the city’s development.

Gilbert said Tuesday that the victory was bittersweet due to Mayor Ron Pilozzi’s loss.

“My goal is to stabilize the tax base, and fight to get new revenue in,” he said. “I’m ready to go.” 

Brunner noted that it was his first attempt at a political seat and that he entered the race late.

“Gilbert ran a clean campaign, and I’m still going to be involved in the city and help improve it,” he said. 

In the Second Ward, current Councilman Blake Boyle lost his Democratic endorsement to Smilinich and didn’t appear on the ballot. Smilinich, a former school board president, ran against Juliano, a political newcomer who works for an accounts receivable company. 

Smilinich argued that her background on the board and her familiarity with the city’s issues would serve her well in the council, while Juliano criticized the district’s tax increase that she stood behind.

The two have disagreed over People Inc.’s plans to develop Highland School into 38 low-income apartments. The city zoning board has denied a variance request from the organization, and Smilinich said she supports the body’s decision. Juliano said the project would bring new residents to the city and help grow local businesses. 

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