LEWISTON – Councilman Michael J. Marra, who served on both the Town and Village boards for the past 10 years, made an announcement in writing Wednesday morning that he will step down as of Friday.
He did not announce his decision publicly during Monday’s special work session. Supervisor Dennis J. Brochey Sr. said the announcement came as a surprise to him.
“I told him I was sorry to hear of this,” said Brochey, who added that although they had some differences of opinions, “eventually we would have been working very well together. He had a wealth of experience he is taking away with him.”
Marra, who had three years left on his term, is the second board member to leave midterm. Longtime board member Ernest Palmer, who lost the race for supervisor last November, left the board in February, saying he was done with public life.
Marra, who spoke to The Buffalo News by telephone, echoed the same sentiment.
“I’ve been thinking about it for some time. I’ve been doing it for 10 years, and I guess it’s enough,” Marra said.
Marra, who has three years left on his four-year term, said that over the past six or seven months things have changed, including tensions between some of the longtime board members and Brochey, who took office in January.
But Marra said he doesn’t want to blame anyone for his decision to leave, calling it “his own decision.”
“I think back 10 years ago when I first joined the Village Board, and I just had more of a passion,” said Marra. “I loved it, but now I really just want to have more time to do some more of my own things. There’s more things I can be involved at, even at my work.”
Marra, a job placement coordinator for Niagara Cerebral Palsy for the past 24 years, said his employer is great to work for and has been very flexible over the years as he served on the two boards.
He said he made the decision to leave immediately, rather than make an announcement at next week’s meeting.
“I didn’t want to hang around,” said Marra. “If you are going to do it, just do it and let the guys move on without you. Make a clean break.”
Marra said there was a stack of résumés of good people who applied for the job when William Conrad was appointed to the board in March after Palmer left in February, and he hoped that a few of these will apply again.
Brochey said he was unsure how that would work out and was concerned that it might be too late to get anyone else registered to run for election. However, according to election law, there is a procedure to get someone on a November ballot after the July 11 deadline if there is an open seat. Conrad has already been endorsed by the Republican, Conservative and Independent parties to continue to serve in the one-year unexpired term.
Meanwhile, Niagara County Democratic Chairman Nick Forster, in a news release, called Marra’s resignation “a disgrace, an insult to Lewiston residents in an attempt to circumvent the election process.”
He said Marra’s departure follows the resignation of Palmer, who resigned following his failed bid for town supervisor last November, and noted that Marra won re-election at the same time.
“This is a pattern in Lewiston and other towns in the county where elected Republicans resign from positions they were elected to, and people are then appointed to fill those positions without elections,” wrote Forster. “It’s a political fix plain and simple, making sure their handpicked candidates have the advantage of incumbency, and other would-be candidates are at a disadvantage.”