16 candidates file petitions to run for School Board
But big changes unlikely on city panel since 4 incumbents face no challenger
Though all nine Buffalo Board of Education seats are on the ballot next month for the first time in 15 years, the board may not look that much different after Election Day because nearly half of the members are running unopposed.
A total of 16 candidates filed petitions with the Erie County Board of Elections by Tuesday’s deadline, signaling the start of the big race, in which candidates run for one of six district seats, which have three-year terms, or one of three at-large seats, which are for five years.
There were no big surprises Tuesday, although there still could be some last-minute submissions via mailed petitions postmarked by midnight to get on the May 7 ballot.
Here’s what we know based on petitions filed by the end of the day Tuesday:
• No opponents have emerged to challenge four district incumbents.
Running unopposed will be Sharon M. Belton-Cottman in the Ferry District, Hope Jay in the North District, Jennifer Mecozzi in the West District and Paulette Woods in the Central District.
Early on, Belton-Cottman appeared to have a challenger in college student Joseph Gibson, but he told The Buffalo News he dropped out.
Board Member at Large Larry Quinn also had considered challenging Jay – but Quinn decided not to run again.
So it looks like almost half of the current School Board will remain intact.
• Two district seats are up for grabs.
Contests are on tap for the Park and East districts.
In Park, veteran School Board Member Lou Petrucci will face a challenge from Austin Harig.
Petrucci, who served on the School Board between 2007 and 2013, including a year as board president, was chosen last June to fill the vacant seat representing South Buffalo. Harig, a claims adjuster for Geico, ran in 2016 as a high school student, losing in a close race to former Park District Board Member Carl Paladino.
In East, where two-term Board Member Theresa Harris-Tigg has decided not to seek re-election, the race will be between two newcomers, with Patricia Elliott-Patton, a vice president in the District Parent Coordinating Council, facing off against Kathy Evans Brown.
• There’s a crowded field running for at-large seats.
Eight of the School Board candidates are running for the three citywide seats. Observers – or in some cases the candidates themselves – said that’s because there are no entrenched candidates seeking re-election for those seats, where all three incumbents chose not to run again.
In other instances, candidates who joined the at-large race may have done so to avoid posing a challenge in a district race against an incumbent they see as an eventual ally on