When the Wales Republican Committee met Oct. 26 to endorse candidates for re-election this month, there was one notable exception.
The committee refused to give its nod to fellow Republican on the board Jude A. Hartrich, who is seeking her second four-year term as councilwoman.
She and fellow councilman Gerald E. Klinck are running unopposed for their seats, so any endorsement is largely ceremonial.
But the lack of the Republican committee’s endorsement for Hartrich has not gone unnoticed in this town.
It all stems from Hartrich’s support of the Democratic challenger for Wales Highway Superintendent over incumbent Republican Michael Zywar over personal issues: Hartrich’s family and Zywar’s were once good friends, but when the Zywars got divorced, Hartrich sided with his ex-wife.
Chairman Harry Wahl said this is the first time the committee had not endorsed candidates before the primary in September – and blamed it on Hartrich.
“She had approached us four years ago for Republican support, which we gave her,” Wahl said.
But when it became apparent in mid-February that she was supporting Dani Bond, a Democrat running against incumbent Republican Michael Zywar for Highway Superintendent, her re-endorsement was out of the question, Wahl said.
“Politics is politics,” Wahl said. “You can’t ask for a political party endorsement and then go against it. She shouldn’t have asked for our endorsement. It is betraying the party, and she is supporting a candidate that is not qualified.”
Hartrich, according to Wahl, signed papers pledging that she would be loyal to the party.
The issue between Zywar and Hartrich is a “personal one and should not become a political one,” Wahl said.
Hartrich said she doesn’t remember signing papers regarding party loyalty but did remember a fellow councilman asking her last February if she was supporting Bond.
She replied to him: “I support her right to run.”
At some point Hartrich said she noticed signs for Zywar going up in all the other board members yards and that’s when she put one up for Bond.
Hartrich acknowledged that her decision to support Zywar’s opponent was personal.
She explained that both she and Zywar, who are both members of the Wales Center Fire Company, were close friends and that he was the one who encouraged her to go into politics.
The Zywars and Hartriches were the best of friends for years, but when the Zywars were divorced, she took Zywar’s ex-wife’s side, Hartrich said.
“’I didn’t do it for political reasons,” she said about her refusal to support Zywar. I just don’t trust him anymore.”
Hartrich also pointed out that Zywar had been reprimanded by the Town Board in the spring of 2013 for removing part of his phone records without permission from the Town Clerk’s office.
Zywar has an agreement with the town to pay any personal calls himself and has always done this.
Burt Hartrich said, there was an enormous amount of texting between May and December of 2012 and that she believes he had to have done it on town time.
She also objected to some of Zywar’s behavior with a former employee during a period he was going through a divorce.
Zywar, when contacted, said: “Jude should have stayed neutral. She does a good job, but she should be more professional and leave the personal things out. I don’t have a problem with anyone else on the board.”
Hartrich said she felt bad about not being endorsed, but added: “This won’t change the way I do the job.”
When reached by phone, she said she was not aware she did not get the Republican endorsement, as she carried petitions this summer for the primary and is on the ballot for Nov. 6 as an endorsed candidate. She does have the Conservative line.
Hartrich said she was aware there was a problem with her support of Bond because one night before a Town Board meeting some of the other board members “totally reamed me out. It was nasty and they called me a traitor.” She said they told her they were “upset that I crossed party lines. But I vote my conscience and my beliefs and want the best candidate for Wales.”
Hartrich, one of the busiest members of the Town Board working on committees involving health care, walkway around the park, water protection and dog control, said she was concerned that the endorsement issue would make it harder to do her job.
But she pointed out: “I’m employed by the town for the next four years and plan on continuing to work hard for the residents of Wales.”
On the Web: See who gave what to candidates running for office this year at BuffaloNews.com/CampaignGiving