Vic Eydt, Claudia Marasco, Tina Coppins seek board positions
By Joshua Maloni
Two well-qualified Village of Lewiston residents will vie for the position of mayor in the June 19 election.
On Tuesday, two-term Deputy Mayor Bruce Sutherland was the top vote-getter in the Republican Party caucus. Two days later, former Clerk/Treasurer Anne Welch garnered the most tallies at the Democrat Party caucus.
Additionally, incumbent GOP Trustee Vic Eydt won his party's bid for re-election. Claudia Marasco took a spot on both party lines. Tina Coppins is the second Democrat candidate for the Village Board.
Sutherland, 71, has served eight years as deputy to retiring Mayor Terry Collesano. Prior to his time on the Village Board, Sutherland was a member of the Planning Commission.
He received 83 votes, topping Welch's 52. One hundred and thirty-eight registered Republican voters entered the Red Brick Municipal Building to cast a ballot.
In a surprise move, Welch was nominated for one of the two available trustee positions. Eydt and Planning Commission member Marasco also were recommended.
Eydt was the top vote-getter with 84 tallies. Welch was second (81) and Marasco third (64).
On Thursday, Welch returned the favor, defeating Sutherland in the second caucus.
To the applause of nearly 60 people inside the Morgan Lewis Village Boardroom, the Democrats selected three women - including trustee candidates Marasco and Coppins. They received more votes than Eydt, who also was nominated.
Party leadership did not release vote totals.
Welch said she would decline the GOP trustee nomination to pursue the village's top elected office. As such, Marasco, the third-place finisher on Tuesday, also will be a Republican nominee.
Sutherland's term as trustee will end July 2. As he is not seeking re-election for this position, a second trustee seat is up for grabs.
Two, four-year board positions are available. The office of mayor also carries a four-year term.
Anne Welch and Vic Eydt
Sutherland has lived in Lewiston for nearly 15 years. Earlier in his career, he was a member of the Air Force for 26 years, serving as commander of the 463rd Tactical Airlift Wing and the vice commander of the 7th Bomb Wing. Sutherland retired from active duty and went on to work for almost 12 years as a pilot for Southwest Airlines.
He is a charter member of the Lew-Port Alumni Association. Sutherland graduated from the Creek Road campus in 1964, and then from Niagara County Community College, State University of New York at Geneseo and the University of Southern California.
Sutherland is a member of the Historical Association of Lewiston and Niagara Frontier Country Club, in addition to being a lifetime member of the Air Force Association.
Bruce and his wife, Jackie, have three children and four grandchildren.
"I have done my best to represent you, and hopefully have established a reputation for being able to work with everyone," Sutherland said.
"I have learned from everyone I have worked with and for, but I do think that local governance shouldn't be about politics, but what is right for the people," he added.
Welch presently serves as vice chairwoman of the Planning Commission. In 1983, she was hired by the municipality to serve in the clerk's office. Welch was promoted to deputy clerk and then to clerk/treasurer. She served in that capacity until her retirement in 2014.
During her time with the village, Welch served as the clerk to the Planning and Historic Preservation Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals. She also served on the village's master plan, zoning update and Local Waterfront Revitalization Program committees.
Welch is a 1968 graduate of Lewiston-Porter High School. She completed courses through the New York State Department of State Building and Codes Administration, the New York Conference of Mayors Clerk's School, and attended the state seminar on historic preservation, planning and zoning. Welch was a member of the New York State Society of Municipal Finance Officers, the New York State Association of City and Village Clerks, and the Niagara County Clerk's Association.
Her accolades include the 2001 Community Leaders Award from the Niagara Falls Chamber of Commerce, the New York Conference of Mayor's 30 Years of Service Award, and the Historical Association of Lewiston's Friend of History Award.
Welch has recently chaired the VFW Memorial Day parade and reception, while also opening her home for the Lewiston Garden Walk and HAL's Tour of Homes.
Anne is married to Robert Welch. They have three children - Robert, Michele and Michael - and eight grandchildren.
On Tuesday, she said, "I spent more than 30 years working for the village and its people, and I believe that I have the experience and the knowledge to move the village in the right direction and into the future."
"My experience makes me the very best candidate," she added.
Eydt has served the Village of Lewiston since 1993. He was a member of the Planning and Historic Preservation Commission and served as chairman before joining the Village Board. Eydt will seek a third term as trustee.
He is involved in many of the village's community volunteer organizations. Eydt is a member of the Historical Association of Lewiston, junior governor of Lower Niagara Moose Lodge 584, a board member of Lewiston's Memorial Day remembrance committee, and works with the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce's annual Lewiston Smelt Festival.
Marasco serves on the Village of Lewiston Planning Commission and is a frequent attendee at Village Board and Historic Preservation Commission meetings. She helped found and fund the "Invest in a Vest" program that outfitted Lewiston Police Department officers with new tactical ballistic vests.
Marasco heads up the volunteer group collecting money and food donations for Ransomville's Care-n-Share food pantry, Community Missions and Heart, Love & Soul. Marasco and her team accumulate items outside of Artpark prior to the summer "Tuesdays in the Park" concerts.
Year-round, Marasco can be found at the International Peace Garden, where she volunteers as a caretaker.
She was the recipient of the Village of Lewiston Citizen of the Year Award in 2010 and 2017. Her additional honors include the Paul Harris Fellow Rotary International Award, the New York State Senate's "Woman of Distinction," a Community Missions of Niagara Falls award, and the Lewiston Police Department's William H. Galls Memorial Award.
Marasco received a bachelor's degree in history and political science from the University of Minnesota and a master's degree in education from Niagara University. She also has an advanced graduate degree in school counseling.
Coppins is a property manager, a position she has held for almost two decades. She oversees a 425,000-square-foot property, which has approximately 2,000 people employed within its walls. She manages a $1.8 million expense budget, which includes capital improvements. Coppins also is working with an architect and contractor on a $3.75 million housing project.
A frequent visitor to Center Street businesses, and a member of Embody Health & Wellness, Coppins is well versed in Lewiston. When she wed her husband, Peter, she married into the Coppins Service Station family. The village fixture has been in operation since 1937.
Tina and Peter (a member of the Historic Preservation Commission) have two sons. She serves as a member and treasurer of the Cheektowaga Chamber of Commerce. Coppins also is past president of the Greater Buffalo Building Owners and Managers Association.
Tina Coppins and Claudia Marasco.