Tonawanda News — The City of Tonawanda Democratic Committee has endorsed a political newcomer, Jackie Smilinich, over 10-year Councilman Blake Boyle in a primary, committee chair Gayle Syposs said.
Boyle said he will challenge Smilinich, who is currently serving as the Tonawanda school board president, in a primary race.
“I definitely am going to run,” said Boyle, who has changed his political affiliation in the past. “I guess I don’t play well in the sandbox with the Democratic people. If I don’t beat Jackie, I’m going to back a Republican for the seat.”
Despite his past political alignment, Boyle said he is backing Republican Mayor Ron Pilozzi in his race against Democratic candidate Rick Davis — a former councilman who lost to the mayor by a narrow margin in 2009.
The committee had to choose between two other hopefuls vying for the First Ward seat, and endorsed incumbent Heather Little over former school board member Lynn Casal, who resigned from the body in January.
“There is a chance that endorsement may change, because there is a chance Heather will be moving,” Syposs said. “We have until the beginning of June, when the petitions are due, to straighten that out.”
But Casal accused the committee of backhandedly choosing Little to bide its time.
“This would be done to give Gayle time to look for another puppet to control and run in Heather’s place,” Casal said in an email.
Little, although unable to speak for the committee, said sher and her husband have not decided whether they will move out of the city.
“My house is not up for sale,” she said. “We have flipped houses in the past, and there is a lot of work being done on my house to update it ... I love the City of Tonawanda, and there is a lot to weigh.”
Little said they have not entered into a binding agreement with the seller of the house, which is in Hamburg and not officially on the market.
The Third and Fourth Ward were less complicated for the committee. It endorsed incumbent Richard Slisz and newcomer Jenna Koch, who hopes to replace current Councilman Tyler Kossow, who will not run due to job obligations.
On the Republican side, Chuck Gilbert, a former one-term councilman and candidate for the state Assembly, will compete for the First Ward seat.
In the Second Ward, newcomer Jon Juliano has thrown his hat in the ring. Juliano, who works at an accounts receivable company, has argued for change on the council.
“I believe some of our current council members don’t share those far-reaching views ... we have a lot of stale ideas, and we need someone new and fresh to bring families and businesses back to Tonawanda,” he said.
As of last month, the Republican Committee has not chosen a candidate for the Third Ward race, and chair Christine Pilozzi did not return calls Wednesday to comment on the process.
Brian Jopp has won the Republican endorsement for the Fourth Ward race. He owns a local video productions business, Ghostline Entertainment, and is another political newcomer.Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter at @JessicaLBagley