Turnout in school voting was up slightly this morning in Hamburg, a district wracked by controversy, with voters and candidates saying they are against drama and for civility.
“If you can’t sign your name to it, keep your mouth shut,” said Joe Smith, a PTA member raising funds by grilling hot dogs near the entrance to the Hamburg High School polling place.
“I’m hoping that Voldemort and his crew of Death Eaters is gone,” Smith said, citing the villains in Harry Potter books to characterize his view of the problematic school oard.
He pointed to a candidates’ tent set up on the sidewalk for Cam Hall and Thomas Flynn and said they represented change and would be getting his vote today.
“I’m voting for somebody who is not associated with it,” he said, referring to the drama that has plagued school politics.
Hamburg is one of the most high-profile races in the region. Residents of districts will head to the polls today to vote on budgets for the next school year and to fill seats on their school boards. Polls close at 9 p.m.
Click here for a voter guide to today’s school elections in Erie and Niagara County.
While a minority faction on the Hamburg School Board that some associate with the conflict is not up for re-election, candidates talking to people on their way to the polls said they were promoting a more polite and measured public conversation about schools.
By 11 a.m. turnout was up slightly with about 50 more votes cast than at the same time last year: 639 had voted this morning compared to the 591 in 2013, said Barbara Sporyz, school district clerk.
Rose Boswell echoed Smith’s concerns as she walked in to vote. She has been upset by board conflicts and accusations she has read about.
“It just makes me sick,” she said. “I think people in the Hamburg school district are kind of fed up.”
Candidates greeting people as they walked to vote said they felt optimistic that change was on the way.
“My platform is civility,” said Hall. “I think that’s what we need to get our district focused on.”
Candy Ditkowski, campaigning further down the sidewalk along the school building, was pleased by the turnout. “I think the voters in Hamburg are going to make the right decision,” she said.
For complete coverage and results of the election, come to BuffaloNews.com tonight.