By Alice E. Gerard
On Jan. 1, councilmen Pete Marston and Christian Bahleda, as well as Town Justice Mark Frentzel and Town Highway Superintendent Richard Crawford, were sworn into office by retired Tonawanda City Court Judge Joseph Cassata. The event was held at the Sandy Beach Yacht Club, and the master of ceremonies was Eric Fiebelkorn, president of the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce.
“I commend and thank you for running in what I thought was a really respectful and mindful campaign this year,” Fiebelkorn said. “I challenge you to keep an open mind and an open ear to all those you represent with a spirit of professionalism and kindness. I pray that you stay hungry for progress, humble in spirit, and persistently patient.”
Cassata said, “Public service is a special thing. When you get a key to the Town Hall, that key is special. Whether you win, lose, or draw the second time around, it doesn’t matter. You were part of .0007% of your population who served in public service. They can never take that away from you. I am honored and privileged to share this day with you.”
Fiebelkorn introduced each of the four town officials being installed into office by reading a brief biography, starting with Frentzel, who has served as a town justice for the past 16 years and as an attorney in general practice for 35 years. He also volunteers with the VFW, the Grand Island Lions Club, the soccer club, and the Young Life Golf Committee.
“Judge Frentzel represents fairness, integrity and impartiality,” Fiebelkorn said. “Additionally, Judge Frentzel remains at the forefront of managing growth in our court caseload and addressing the complexities of ever-changing social issues, legal procedures, and law.
“Pete Marston is beginning his second term as town councilman today. He is a 40-year resident of Grand Island, a Grand Island High School Class of ’87 graduate. Pete opened his small business on Grand Island in 2002.” He is a past member of the Planning Board and the Master Planning Committee. “As an elected official, his mottos are simple: ‘I will walk in the shoes of those I serve to best understand their concerns.’ No. 2: ‘Investing in our community’s future is just as important as today’s needs’; and No. 3 (and my favorite): ‘Elected officials are temporary stewards. We need to leave it better than how we found it.’ His goal is to maintain fiscal responsibility and make Grand Island a great place to live and to raise a family.
“Beginning his first term as town councilman, Christian Bahleda is committed to putting our community first, so that Grand Island remains a safe and affordable place to live. Both he and his wife, Megan, were raised on Grand Island and are lifelong residents. They loved their childhood on Grand Island, and this is the only place that they could imagine living with their two dogs, Bailey and Lola.” A member of the Technology Advisory Board, “Christian has constantly pushed to make our town better. He is currently working on implementing a plan to get fiber optic internet to the residents of Grand Island, and he is working with a great team to rebuild the town’s website. … Christian values communication and transparency with the residents of Grand Island, and will always be available to promptly address any concerns to residents with both care and respect.
“Richard (‘Dick’) Crawford has served as the town’s highway superintendent since 2018, and he has been reelected for a second term. He has served the community as deputy highway superintendent and as Grand Island councilman for 19 years, and deputy town supervisor for 12 years. During his terms, he fought for responsible growth and high-quality services to the residents, industries and businesses in the most cost-effective way. As highway superintendent, he and his staff strive for excellence. Working together on all projects dealing with infrastructure and thousands of feet of storm sewer, these collaborations done in-house have saved the town thousands of dollars. He continues to look at efficiencies and delivery of the Highway Department programs for the residents.” He is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, the Rod and Gun Club, Niagara Sailing Club, the Grand Island Alumni Association, and the Lions Club of Grand Island.
From left: Town Justice Mark Frentzel, Councilman Pete Marston, Councilman Christian Bahleda and Highway Superintendent Richard Crawford. (Photo by Alice E. Gerard)