Tonawanda News — The City of Tonawanda Democratic Committee has changed its First Ward election endorsement after Councilwoman Heather Little announced her intention to move out of the city.
Little announced her decision at the body’s last meeting, and has since put her Tonawanda house up for sale, Tonawanda Democratic Committee Chairwoman Gayle Syposs said.
The committee endorsed Little earlier this month but has now replaced her with Paul Brunner, of Syracuse Street, who Syposs said has an extensive background with community organizations.
“Paul has years of experience with community based housing counseling agency, and in that work, authored successful grants for neighborhood improvement,” a press release from the committee states. “He is currently employed by a local energy improvement company performing energy conservation improvements to homes.”
Syposs said Brunner was not initially interviewed for the race and that his name did not come up until after Little stepped down, but that the committee was familiar with him.
“When I finished talking to him, I actually apologized for not asking him sooner,” Syposs said.
Lynn Casal, a former school board member who stepped down from the body in February, did interview for the endorsement in April, but was not chosen. She has voiced her intentions to challenge the Democratic candidate in a primary this fall, and has also taken issue with the committee’s initial choice of Little.
“I was also told that Gayle Syposs and the committee planned on endorsing Heather even though she would no longer be eligible to avoid having to endorse me and that she would step down at a later point. This would be done to give Gayle time to look for another puppet to control and run in Heather’s place,” Casal alleged in an email. “I have made no secret about the fact that I am running for the people and will not to be a puppet for anyone, including the party boss. Actions like this are exactly why I feel the need to run.”
On the Republican side, Chuck Gilbert, a one-term councilman and a candidate for state Assembly, will also vie for the First Ward seat.Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter at @JessicaLBagley