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By Karen Robinson

News Staff Reporter

One political battle in Lancaster centers on whether the Democratic hold on the Town Board will remain intact as Republicans challenge two council seats.

But also commanding voter attention is what’s emerging as a hot race for town justice between two well-known attorneys – Mark S. Aquino and Anthony J. Cervi.

Cervi lost a bid several years ago for Cheektowaga town justice and says he has deep roots in the community, just like his opponent.

It’s rare when there’s opposition in a Lancaster town justice race.

Political observers predict it’ll be a close race between the attorneys, who both are hungry for the seat being vacated by longtime Town Justice J. Michael Kelleher, a Democrat who first was elected in 1975 and is retiring from the bench.

Both Cervi and Aquino, along with their families, have strong ties to the community. Both men also are touting their experience in the courtroom and legal arena.

Their campaign signs are scattered throughout Lancaster and have been for many weeks. Both men also have led aggressive door-to-door campaigns, looking to woo voters into their respective camps.

Aquino, also the Depew village attorney, is a former Lancaster village clerk-treasurer and has practiced law for 22 years. He is running on the Democratic, Independence and Working Family party lines. He talks up his long record of law experience as a defense attorney and a former village prosecutor.

“I’ve lived in this community for 50 years. It gives me a perspective that [Cervi] may not have,” Aquino said, also noting that he has “more experience” than his opponent. “I expect the race to be close. It is competitive.”

By contrast, Cervi, the Republican and Conservative parties’ candidate, insists he is dedicated to practicing law and has done so for 11-plus years, now running a private practice in Buffalo. Cervi touts a strong work ethic, and his legal and personal background.

“I believe those have made me well-suited to be the next town judge,” said Cervi, a former Maryvale School Board member. “My business is the practice of law. I’ve learned the law that would come before me as a town justice and have learned it well.”

The town justice post – one of two in the town, with the other seat held by incumbent Democratic Town Justice Mark A. Montour – carries a four-year term and annual salary of nearly $42,000.

email: krobinson@buffnews.com

On the Web: For more election news on Erie County’s suburban towns and cities, candidate bios and videos, go to www.buffalonews.com/suburbanraces.