Tonawanda News

March 8, 2013

CAMPAIGN SEASON

Donovan to retire, Dems mum on council, mayoral challengers

By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Republicans will attempt to continue their dominance on the North Tonawanda City Council, with most of the incumbents up for reelection announcing they will seek another term. 

Three council seats are up for grabs in November, including the First, Second and Third wards and an at-large slot held by Nancy Donovan, who announced she will not be seeking re-election and instead retire. Council President Rich Andres, who represents the Second Ward, said he’ll look to win a third two-year term on the council, though he also indicated without elaborating that he would be open to other political options. 

Republican Third Ward Alderman Eric Zadzilka said he will seek a third term, while Russ Rizzo, an independent who caucuses with the Republicans, said he would also vie for a second consecutive term representing the First Ward. He also served from 2000 to 2009 on the council before a brief, two-year stint as a Niagara County legislator. 

City Attorney Shawn Nickerson, who has held his post since 2005, said he also is aiming for another four-year term, while Mayor Rob Ortt announced his re-election campaign in February. 

Donovan’s departure leaves an opportunity for Democrats to regain a council toe-hold after consecutive Republican sweeps in the last two election cycles. North Tonawanda Democratic Chairman Mark Houghton said in an interview this week plans are already in the works to mount a fierce campaign for all the council seats. He declined to announce those selections until a later date as both sides size up the opposition and their slate of candidates. 

 “I think we have an excellent shot this time,” Houghton said. “Take a look at the job the Republicans are actually doing. Take a look at the secrecy.”

Democrats say they will field a strong lineup after losing the entire council and the mayor’s post despite the fact the majority of registered voters in the Lumber City are Democrats. Houghton criticized Ortt’s platform of development successes, calling him “pompous” and stating that the Republican mayor often takes credit for projects already launched by his Democratic predecessors. 

“He’s banking on everyone else’s successes,” Houghton said. 

Ortt countered that while some of the projects began before his term very few of them actually came to fruition until he and the Republican-led council took the helm, when he contends that projects like the marina, the Remington Lofts, Walmart and a slew of smaller projects began to gain a head of steam after sitting in limbo for years. 

“I think his viewpoints are just political posturing,” Ortt said of Houghton’s comments. “But nothing could be further from the truth. We’ll have that debate when they reveal their candidates.” 

Republicans have not said who will run for Donovan’s seat. 

Contact Reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.