Applying for Paladino’s Park seat

Aug 24, 2017

At least two south Buffalo residents say they are seeking appointment to Carl Paladino's city school board seat. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says both are former Park District candidates.    

Buffalo Board of Education August 16, 2017 meeting.
Credit WBFO News file photo

Austin Harig narrowly defeated by incumbent Paladino back in May of 2016 by 132 votes. Harig was just 18 and a senior at Hutch Tech. 

Austin Harig standing inside the Board of Elections after absentee ballot count in the May 2016 Park District race.
Credit WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

Kevin Lafferty ran unsuccessfully for the seat back in 2004. Now the school board is collecting applications to appoint a Park District board member and both Harig & Lafferty want to be considered.

“I would have preferred that Carl would have resigned back in December and we could have moved on from the incident,” remarked Lafferty.   

Photo of Kevin Lafferty with his wife & daughter from his Twitter profile.
Credit Photo from Kevin Lafferty's Twitter page

“I didn’t thing that that was something that he should have encouraged by posting such inflammatory comments because that just derails the business of the board,” Harig commented.

Harig and Lafferty referring to Paladino's racist comments made last December against the Obamas.

Late last week New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia has removed Paladino saying he violated executive session rules for revealing closed-door information about the teachers’ contract talks

“That with the removal, I think it finally brings some peace to the situation and I think it gets ready for the Park District to have a say in board affairs again,” Lafferty noted.

“As a replacement, my goal would be to mend the rifts and the tensions that exist,” Harig stated.

New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia.
Credit WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

Commissioner Elia refused to answer questions about her Paladino decision during a conference call with reporters Tuesday as she was issuing results on state tests.    

“No, I’m not going to that – this case is clearly not over and it’s not appropriate for me to comment on it,” stated Elia.

Paladino's attorney, Dennis Vacco,  is vowing to fight against Commissioner Elia's removal decision. Vacco believes Paladino was removed for his comments made in an Artvoice article last year against the Obamas. Vacco is expected to decide if he will seek a stay or an injunction to stop removal.  But Vacco tells WBFO News he has "nothing new to report."             

Attorneys Dennis Vacco & Jennifer Persico represent Carl Paladino.
Credit WBFO News file photo by Mike Desmond

The school board has to replace Paladino within 30 days. Applications must be received by Friday, September first by 4 p.m.      

Lafferty said he sent his application in Friday. Lafferty is an active Buffalo school parent with a daughter attending Bennett Park Montessori.

“I’m on the DPCC (District Parent Coordinating Council). I was elected their representative. I since joined the executive committee for that. I’m the legislative committee chairman and I was recently elected as the public advocate,” Lafferty explained. “I’m a big fan of the Education Bargain, Dr. Cash’s initiative. I think you are starting to see concrete results – you’re seeing increased results in the graduation rates – I would like to look at that and see how we can strengthen that and make it better.”

Harig, now 19, orks at Geico. He was arrested twice last year, once accused of providing alcohol to minors and a second time for assault.  But chargers were later dropped.

“I was innocent of all charges and it was so bad that there is a current lawsuit pending against the Buffalo Police Department,” Harig responded.

Harig tells WBFO News he sent a letter to the school board expressing interest.

“I would have submitted it already, but I really want to make sure it’s great. I’m currently building the application – writing the biography, the vitae. I’m getting letters of recommendation,” Harig remarked.

District spokeswoman Elena Cala tells WBFO, so far Lafferty and Harig are the only two candidates who have indicated a desire to be appointed.  

The following is information provided by the Buffalo Board of Education about applying for the Park District seat:

Persons applying to fill the Park District vacancy should send or deliver a letter of notification with attached biography, resume or vitae.  This information should be sent to:

Buffalo Board of Education,

Attn: Darren Brown, District Clerk

801 City Hall

Buffalo, New York 14202

Letter must be time stamped and received by 4 p.m. on Friday, September 1, 2017.  The information may also be e-mailed, by the deadline, to:

Qualifications include the following:

  • A citizen of the United States
  • A qualified voter of Buffalo City School District
  • A resident of Buffalo for at least three (3) years
  • No felony convictions
  • A resident of the sub-district (Park District) for at least one year prior to appointment

Applications will be reviewed and an interview schedule will be established.