by Joshua Maloni
In the past 37 years, four people have served as mayor in the Village of Lewiston. Three of those people are endorsing a political newcomer who seeks that office in the June 17 election.
Richard Soluri, Bill Geiben and Marilyn Toohey are supporting Jamie Symmonds, who is running for mayor against incumbent Terry Collesano and fellow challenger Jacqueline Lampman.
Soluri, a Republican who served as mayor from 1994-2009, said, "If you look at the back of one the street signs close to Herb Richardson's property (near Fourth and Center streets), we filled that in by calling Lewiston a vibrant community. It appears - and people feel that way - that it's not as vibrant as it was. I think that's what Jamie, as a young person, can provide, is vibrancy. I think that's what we need to sustain the village."
"It just seems to be that the vitality - we need vibrancy and vitality, and I think Jamie could do that," he said. "I think she should have the opportunity. A young person; a female; she can come to all three of us for advice if she needed it or required it."
Toohey, a Democrat, served as mayor from 1977-94.
"I was the first female mayor in this village, and I believe it's time for another woman mayor," she said. "Jamie's a native of the village that's been very active in the community. She will be progressive, but (she's) young and (has) new ideas, and that will make us all proud of our village."
Geiben, who was appointed mayor when Soluri stepped down in 2009, said, "Terry does a good job as far as the day-to-day operation of the village, in cooperation with the village clerk's office and the (Department of Public Works). But what we're lacking is someone with the spirit that can motivate others to continue to be involved and to expand their involvement in the Village of Lewiston - specifically, the Center Street businessmen and the cultural/arts activities."
He said Symmonds has the talent and ability to work with the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce in seeking out grants and donations.
Symmonds, a former Planning Board member, owns and operates Angel to Apple Clothing & Shoe Boutique on Center Street. She serves as a board member with the Chamber of Commerce. When asked what the endorsements meant to her, Symmonds said, "My first reaction is I'm speechless.
"Knowing both (Soluri and Toohey) personally and professionally, I think it's quite an honor that they think highly of me enough to be supportive. I think showing both sides - man, woman; Republican, Democrat - honestly ... it brings a smile to my face."
"It's an honor," she said.
Speaking of Geiben, Symmonds said, "I have a lot of respect for the man. ... He has that personality that makes a good mayor."
Symmonds said the three former mayors "all have one big thing in common, if you ask me, (is) their passion for the village - their love for the village. That's really what I hope to carry on if I get in office."
She said the three mayors "led by example."
"I'm going to try to lead by their example," Symmonds said. "They were involved mayors. They were involved with the people. ... They put their face out there. They were part of the community. I plan to do the same thing."
The Village of Lewiston election is Tuesday, June 17. Residents can vote from noon until 9 p.m. at the Red Brick Municipal Building, 145 N. Fourth St.