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Peter Blandino
John Zornow
NEWARK (Aug 25 10) – Two incumbents – Peter Blandino and his wife, Helen Blandino – and a newcomer – John Zornow – got party blessings tonight during the Newark Village Republican Caucus.

The lone ripple in the evening was the surprise candidacy of Alan Visengard, who contested the party endorsement of Pete Blandino, who is running for his third term as mayor.

Former Police Chief Dick Bogan nominated Visengard, a veteran and successful local businessman who once owned the Newark Raptors professional baseball team. Bogan said the party might want to consider another candidate because Blandino, as the incumbent, was vulnerable.

“I am concerned as to whether or not the (assumed) endorsed candidate will be the person that will be elected by the voting public,” Bogan said. “The other party has endorsed a candidate who does not need to bring ideas or programs to the table, but can simply remind the public about their concerns – concerns regarding the infrastructure, public safety and tax rate.”

The Democratic candidate, Bogan said, “can simply sit back and throw stones without offering any solutions, simply representing those concerns as problematic. This strategy could go a long way toward getting the candidate of the other party elected.” Bogan later said Blandino’s candidacy could be in jeopardy simply because he’s the guy in power in an anti-establishment election year, “despite all the good he’s done for the village.”

When the balloting ended, Blandino won a clear 82-34 victory, but the other two spots on the ballot, each for four-year terms on the Village Board of Trustees, were uncontested: Helen Blandino and Zornow were chosen by acclamation.

In his acceptance speech, Blandino said he cares about the village. “I will do everything I can for the residents of Newark,” he said. And to the party he promised, “I will campaign tirelessly.”

Blandino was nominated by Village Trustee Kurt Werts, who said the mayor has “led us in the revitalization of Newark.” In terms of fiscal management, Blandino had “kept property tax increases to a minimum. Our public parks are second to none.” Werts said Blandino will “continue to lead Newark responsibly into our future.”

Seconder Jim McBride said Blandino was a “hands-on mayor” who was an everyday presence in the administration of the village’s business. McBride stressed Blandino’s dedication to public safety and his business background. “I don’t think we can afford not to keep Peter as our mayor,” he summed up.

Zornow, the new entry in the trustee sweepstakes, was nominated by Jean Strowbridge, who said he was a lifelong resident, graduate of the public schools, 30-year Kodak employee, and active in the County Planning Board and historical boards in Newark and Sodus. She spoke of his 13-year career as a reporter for the Courier-Gazette as giving him a background in what was happening in town.

“He will be an involved trustee, available when needed, and he won’t be afraid to say ‘No,’” she said.

Zornow, in his acceptance speech, said he wants to be a team player on the board, but will also be an independent thinker. “I won’t be standing here four years from now unless I’ve made a difference,” he said.

Seconder Kimberlee Meeks stressed Zornow’s community activism, which she saw first-hand when she moved into town. “He’s a one-man welcoming committee,” she said.

Helen Blandino
Helen Blandino, who was appointed in December to complete a one-year term when Fran Mason moved out of the village, was nominated by Linda Bridgeman who, as did seconder Patricia Zappia, stressed Blandino’s special voice and point-of-view on the board as the only female.

“No one cares more about the village than Helen,” Bridgeman said. “No one is more dedicated to the village than Helen. She’s an individual thinker, does her homework, has her own opinion…and is approachable.”

Also at the caucus was Tom Ledbetter, the school board member who decided not to run for trustee after announcing his candidacy.

"My passion is education," he said, explaining that he though dual membership on the school board and village board would provide opportunity for teamwork between the two. But when Helen Blandino said she was running, he dropped out.

"I didn't want to oppose anyone," Ledbetter said. "Defeating the mayor's wife would not bring harmony."


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