Weekly Feature

2015-05-27 / Front Page

Casilio gets GOP nod for supervisor

Hartzell plans primary challenge; Kolber also snubbed for board seat

Casilio Casilio The Clarence Republican Party has officially put its weight behind Councilman Patrick Casilio as its candidate this fall for town supervisor.

The news comes as a surprise considering incumbent first-term supervisor David Hartzell is a Republican.

About 40 members of the party attended the May 19 annual endorsement meeting, which included the anonymous votes for town supervisor, clerk, two council members and justice candidates.

In an email to The Bee, Hartzell said he was taken aback by the results of the meeting.

“Yes, I was very surprised about the [committee’s] decision,” he said, noting that for the past three years he has cut the town tax rate while adding services for seniors such as the new weatherproof front entrance at the Senior Center, new pickleball courts for baby boomers, a new full-size basketball court for high school students and a new slide at the pool for children. “All of this cost Town of Clarence taxpayers very little.

“In addition, I was quite surprised that the committee chose Pat Casilio, who voted to raise taxes three times in five years prior to my administration.”

Hartzell went on in the email to criticize Casilio Companies for allegedly being consistently in conflict with the town and the Clarence Industrial Development Agency, suggesting Casilio ought to recuse himself from agenda items more often.

The supervisor stated that he had hired a private company to poll residents to see whether he should consider challenging Casilio for the Republican line in the general election.

“I will be challenging Pat in the Republican primary,” Hartzell said. “I recently hired a nationally known political communications company to poll over 3,500 Town of Clarence prime voters. I asked them one question: if the election for Town of Clarence Supervisor was held today, would you vote for Town of Clarence Supervisor Dave Hartzell or Councilman Pat Casilio? The answer came back ‘Hartzell’ on all three major party lines — Republican, Democrat and Conservative.

“If it had not, I would have dropped out and ceded the election to a worthy successor. But, someone out there likes what I have done over the past four years, so it’s on to the Republican primary.”

Currently in the middle of his third term on the council, Casilio — who has not publicly sought the supervisor seat in the past — said he was “very touched to be nominated” following the results of the committee election, recalling an emotional endorsement speech given by Bill Riordan.

Casilio said he will begin work on his campaign this week, hoping to get his key messages out to voters early, explaining to residents what he has accomplished professionally the last 37 years and for the past 10 as an elected official. He also hinted at some top issues in his campaign agenda.

“In light of the most recent assessments of everybody in town, my first priority is to lower the town tax rate for our citizens,” he said.

Casilio said he also wants to see landscaping review and approval become part of the planning process for new projects in town instead of being addressed after the fact. The issue has been problematic with multiple projects in recent months.

Also during the committee meeting, Nancy Metzger was endorsed for town clerk; Robert Sillar was endorsed for town justice; and Robert Geiger and Chris Greene were endorsed for two seats up for election on the Town Board. Incumbent Councilman Bernard Kolber was not endorsed.

In an email to The Bee, the councilman blamed the snub on his previous support for former Town Supervisor Scott Bylewski, a Democrat, in the last supervisor election.

“Scott was a good friend, who I felt was by far the best candidate running for the position,” Kolber said. “I am loyal both to my friends as well to who I felt was the best candidate from our town. Although I am a diehard Republican, my responsibility is to the people of Clarence, and to act in their best interest, not in a blind party allegiance.”

Kolber said he also is planning a primary challenge and will focus on his advocacy to preserve the town’s character through programs such as Greenprint and controlling spending to keep taxes low.

email: sjagord@beenews.com

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