Tonawanda News

November 2, 2013

North Tonawanda candidate bios

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — North Tonawanda 


Rob Ortt 

Party lines: Republican, Conservative, Working Families, Independence, Green. 

Background: Mayor of North Tonawanda since 2010, one term as city clerk-treasurer, Army National Guard veteran, background as a financial analyst. 

Platform: Ortt cited three budgets without tax increases, a 17 percent reduction in the city workforce, bringing concerts back to the city and development projects such as the Gratwick-Riverside marina, the Remington Lofts and Webster Street as among his first-term achievements. He said with 32 miles of paved roads during the last three years his focus would now turn to infrastructure, including the most troublesome areas of the city’s aging sewer lines. He plans to flush out future development potential on Tonawanda Island and along sections of Oliver Street. 

Janet Zehr

Party line: Democrat

Background: Retired North Tonawanda science teacher, secretary of the Buffalo Astronomical Society. 

Platform: Zehr would like to use a portion of North Tonawanda’s current fund balance of $3 million to consider property tax breaks and to add more police officers to the department’s ranks. She would also look into reducing the mayor’s seat to a part-time position. Zehr said she she would bring transparency to a City Hall controlled by Republicans over the last four years. She also questioned the GOP’s dominance over minor party lines, including those traditionally aligned with Democrats, and said she would seek to introduce regular town hall meetings with the general public. 

First Ward

Russ Rizzo

Party lines: Republican, Conservative, Independence. 

Background:  City Council 2000-2008 and 2011-present , Niagara County Legislator 2009-2011, retired North Tonawanda business owner. 

Platform: Rizzo sites progress on the first phase of a project to address Witmer Road flooding, the return of concerts at Gratwick-Riverside Park and the addition of the Lumberjack Patio Grill and a partially refurbished marina as among his signature accomplishments. He said he utilizes a hands-on approach with residents in his ward and would like to plant trees at Gratwick-Riverside Park and continue adding events to the increasingly popular area along the Niagara River. 

David Kelly 

Party line: Democrat 

Background: A physical education teacher in Buffalo for 22 years, on the executive committee for the Buffalo Teachers Federation, volunteers with North Tonawanda youth soccer. 

Platform: Kelly wants to “offer something different” and use a portion of his salary to launch a youth enhancement program. He questioned the speed by which the Witmer flooding problems have been abated and said he would increase communications with fire and police departments and “bridge some of the generational gaps” he sees in the city at large. 

Second Ward 

Lisa Spencer 

Party line: Democrat. 

Background: Past co-chair of the Spruce Home School Association, public relations specialist for the Phoenix Rising Equine Rescue group. 

Platform: Spencer said public safety is chief among her concerns and she would cut expenses in other areas of city government to add more police officers. She would like to focus on the housing stock in the Second Ward with issues related to absentee landlords in order to bolster the tax base. She would push to expedite developments along Oliver Street that she feels could be tied into progress made along the downtown corridor. 


Donna Braun

Party line: Republican, Conservative, Independence. 

Background: North Tonawanda School Board member since 2011, president of Third Ward Social Club’s Ladies Auxiliary, member of the North Tonawanda Football Hall of Fame. 

Platform: Braun said she would like to continue the “progress” made under the current council and turn to Neighborhood Watch programs and more communication with the police department to address crime in the Second Ward, rather than adding more officers. She said she does not believe transparency is an issue on the Republican-controlled council and also cited the need to develop Oliver Street and address absentee landlords. 

Third Ward

Darlene Bolsover

Party line: Democrat 

Background: Member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7545, licensed practical nurse, Staff Sgt. U.S. Army Reserves. 

Platform: Bolsover would emphasis issues related to the city’s infrastructure, particularly flooding and power outage problems in the Wurlitzer Park neighborhood. She also questioned public safety in the city including what she framed an increase in crime at Walmart and the surrounding areas. She said she would stand as a “voice for financial responsibility.”

Eric Zadzilka

Party lines: Republican, Conservative, Working Families, Independence. 

Background: Two-time city council member. 

Platform: Zadzilka said the advent of Walmart, the near-completion of the Meadow Drive extension project and a council that works well together are evidence that the city has made gains during his two terms. He said he has supported steps taken to address flooding issues in his ward as well as efforts to separate storm sewers through a proposed 2014 budget. Zadzilka would like to push to share services with Niagara County and surrounding municipalities.


Beverly Loxterman 

Party line: Democrat 

Background: Retired as secretary/administrator at Niagara County District Attorney office, YWCA and Zonta of Tonawandas board member. 

Platform: Loxterman repeatedly hammered Republican control of City Hall during her campaign and said she would work to bring transparency to City Hall. Loxterman said if elected she would put an emphasis on public safety and also push to return police and fire dispatchers to North Tonawanda, both of which have merged with the Niagara County. She believes that a reduced crime level would lead to increased business, specifically along Oliver Street. 

Bob Clark 

Republican, Conservative, Working Families, Independence, Green.  

Background: Appointed Alderman-At-Large in August, heavily involved in veterans’ affairs; served as medic in Iraq and Vietnam.   

Platform: Clark said he would use his 40 years of military experience that has led him to live around the country and the world to add to the transformation he feels has already begun in the city where he grew up. Clark said he left a blue collar North Tonawanda and returned to an environment fronted by tourism opportunities related to its waterfront and economic development downtown. He said he would use his brief time on the common council and his background in strategic planning and emergency management, where he learned “how others solved their problems,” to develop the waterfront and improve quality of life issues.