By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — The former mayor of North Tonawanda was fired from a patronage position at the Niagara County Board of Elections Tuesday after a dispute with the newly elected county Democratic chairman.
Nick Forster was chosen to lead the party after Jeremy Schnurr, a North Tonawanda attorney who had held the post after taking over from Dan Rivera earlier this year, bowed out before Monday evening’s vote.
Larry Soos, a lifelong Democrat, said he was informed by the Democratic commissioner of the board of elections, Nancy L. Smith on Tuesday, the day after the vote, that his position was terminated “under the direction of the new chairman.”
Soos, 69, said he held the position for less than two years with his duties including basic data entry and collection. The firing comes after Soos slammed Forster during the nominating proceedings Monday.
“I’ve never been terminated from a job my whole life,” Soos said.
Smith told the Tonawanda News on Wednesday she would not comment on Soos’s firing, citing personnel laws that protect that specific information, before abruptly hanging up on a reporter.
“Nancy is really in the position where she can’t comment,” Soos said, “because her job is on the line.”
Smith’s renomination as commissioner of the board of elections was tabled during Monday’s meeting, while she will now answer directly to Forster, who did not return repeated calls to comment Wednesday.
The internal dispute within the county’s Democratic Party follows years of Republican gains. Democrats hold just three of 15 seats in the county legislature and since Soos’ loss three years ago, North Tonawanda has not had an elected Democrat in office despite a sizable edge in the number of registered Democrats in the Lumber City.
A rift in the party could not come at a more inopportune time, with Nov. 6 elections rapidly approaching.
Soos said the reasons for that are twofold: Years of losing ground to Republican foes has hurt fundraising efforts, while the overwhelming success of state Sen. George Maziarz also has led the Republican charge.
Soos said he opposes Forster’s leadership positions, calling him a “bully,” but insisted he will remain active in the affairs of the county’s Democratic Party regardless of the recent turmoil.
“He wants to rule by intimidation and force,” Soos said of Forster. “He proved that’s true when he terminated my employment.”
at 693-1000, ext. 4115.Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.