The race for the Lockport Common Council’s alderman-at-large seat is between two political novices with long records of public service.
On the Republican side is Ellen Schratz, who boasts a long résumé of service at DeSales Catholic School and the Palace Theatre. Schratz served as president of the DeSales Catholic School Home School Association for 15 years, was a member of the DeSales Catholic School Education Council and petitioned the Diocese of Buffalo to reopen DeSales as a grammar school.
Schratz also helped form a not-for-profit that acquired and rehabilitated the Palace Theatre, and has been the president of the Palace Theatre’s board of directors since its 2003 inception.
“We’re very involved and in tune with Lockport,” Schratz said, referring also to her husband, Jeffrey Schratz, who volunteers with the Historic Lockport Mill Race and Lockport Heritage District Corp. “I have a lot of experience organizing people, managing budgets. I think I have both feet on what’s going on in the city and can help move the city forward in a positive way for all.”
Douglas Nicholson, the Democratic candidate, performed his public service with the Lockport Fire Department. He worked as a firefighter and paramedic for 23 years, and also served the U.S. Air Force from 1982 to 1987.
Nicholson said his experience at LFD has introduced him to every part and population of Lockport.
“I’ve been in every neighborhood. I’ve been in situations that were tragic, that were troubling. ... I’ve seen all aspects of Lockport,” Nicholson said.
Nicholson said as a former paramedic, he has firsthand experience with the opioid crisis. He commended Mayor Michelle Roman for hosting an opioid forum earlier this year to draw more attention to the issue.
“You’ve got to listen and come up with ideas as a group,” Nicholson said.
Like many current and former firefighters, Nicholson was critical of the city’s years-running legal dispute with the Lockport firefighters union over minimum manning. Nicholson said he “understand(s) the reasoning” for the city’s appeal of an arbitration ruling requiring the city to increase LFD’s staffing levels, but said better labor relations could avert costly legal action altogether.
“I think the biggest problem is they failed to follow collective bargaining laws and regulations across the city, and this is what you get,” Nicholson said, referring to the administration of former mayor Anne E. McCaffrey. “They’ve spent way too much on administration and legal fees.”
Schratz said she would focus on issues residents raised during her campaigning: timely responses to tree complaints, keeping taxes low and providing more direct communications between residents and city officials. She suggested a mobile application might make the city more responsive to citizens’ concerns.
“I would like to try to help communications be open and to get the city running on a positive note — so that people want to live in Lockport and want to stay in Lockport,” she said.
Schratz declined to comment on ongoing union disputes, but said Lockport needs to be “fiscally responsible for the citizens and the people who work for the city.”
Address: 390 Locust St.
Occupation: President of Palace Theatre board of directors, owner of Memorable Getaways, a vacation rental business
Prior elected office: N/A
Party lines: Republican, Conservative, Independence and Libertarian.
Address: 22 Roosevelt Drive
Occupation: retired Lockport Fire Department firefighter and paramedic of 23 years
Prior elected office: N/A
Party lines: Democratic and Working Families