16 can­di­dates file pe­ti­tions to run for School Board

But big changes un­likely on city panel since 4 in­cum­bents face no chal­lenger

The Buffalo News - - CITY&REGION - By Jay Rey

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

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