Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

Meet the at-large candidates

Nineteen people stepped forward this month as candidates for the at-large seat vacated by Chris Jacobs -- and it's a pretty interesting pool. Among the mix: the president of the School Board, two college professors, a high school senior, two people from Community Action of Erie County, a career law enforcement officer, and a restaurant owner.

Five of those who submitted resumes have been disqualified. One did not meet the residency requirement of having lived in Buffalo for three years. Four others did not submit three letters of reference, which were required.

We'll get to meet the remaining 14 in some depth (well, as much depth as you can get in a 20- or 30-minute interview) on Wednesday, when the board interviews the candidates at 3 p.m. in Room 801 in City Hall. Interviews are open to the public. You can also check them out here at the School Zone, where I'll be live blogging them.

In the meantime, here's a brief introduction for you:

Sheryl Bates: Education service manager with Community Action of Erie County. Former kindergarten teacher in North Carolina and pre-k and kindergarten teacher at Greater Refuge Christian Academy.

Lydia Bezou-Hojnacki: Retired teacher and administrator. Former secondary math teacher in the Buffalo Public Schools. Math and special education teacher in New Orleans Public Schools. Elementary principal in the Diocese of Buffalo. Adult education teacher in Buffalo, Mississippi and Virginia.

Gary L. Damon Jr.: Program coordinator at Community Action of Erie County. Former "eighth/ninth/twelfth-grade" English teacher for a year in the Buffalo Public Schools. Learning specialist/learning coach for two years in Pennsylvania for ResulTech, the firm that Buffalo hired a few years ago to run its alternative education program.

Barbara A. Jezorio: Retired environmental program specialist for the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Board member and treasurer of The Friends of Vienna, a cultural group that produces six chamber concerts a year, and is a docent for the Albright Knox.

Patricia (Bowers) Pierce: Confidential criminal investigator for the Erie County District Attorney's Office. Former chief of patrol and investigative services for the Erie County Sheriff's Office and detective for the Buffalo Police Department. Commissioner on Buffalo's Reapportionment Committee.

Barbara A. Seals Nevergold: Co-founder and co-director of the Uncrowned Queens Institute for Research and Education on Women. Adjunct assistant professor at Empire State College. Co-editor of "Go Tell Michelle: African American Women Write to the New First Lady." Former director of student support services at UB's Educational Opportunity Center. Taught French in Williamsville and Buffalo.

Bernadine C. Taylor: Customer service representative for National Fuel Gas. Licensed Realtor.

Sarah Slavin: Professor of political science emeritus, Buffalo State College.

James M. Sampson: President of Gateway-Longview. President of the board, Buffalo ReformED. Founding member of West Buffalo Charter School. Board member, Buffalo Niagara Partnership.

Dennis I. Smith: Microcomputer technical support specialist for the Western New York Regional Information Center. Served on the Williamsville East High School's shared decision-making team.

Stephon M. Wright: Senior at Emerson High School. Student Council president for two years. Top quarter of his class.

Joseph A. Mascia: Retired mason for the Buffalo Public Schools. Board member for the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority. Former chairman of the Police Reorganization Commission.

Louis J. Petrucci: School Board president and current Park District representative. Former chair of the Conference of Big Five School Districts executive committee. Current treasurer for Conference of Big Five School Districts. Assistant director of housing and property inspections for the City of Buffalo.

Paul Tsouflidis: Proprietor, Acropolis restaurant. Member of PUSH, the Clean Air Coalition and the City Honors Foundation.

Those who applied but did not submit references: Darnell Hardy, Matthew Ricchiazzi, Madonna M. Priore and Landrum W. Beard. Dennis P. Coakley also applied, but did not meet the three-year residency requirement.

- Mary Pasciak

comments powered by Disqus

About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee |

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes |

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone |

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB |