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Niagara County lawmakers set to vote on NCCC trustee seat

Niagara County Community College

A member of the Niagara County Community College Board of Trustees, who took the seat mid-term to replace its outgoing holder, is expected to be re-appointed by the Niagara County Legislature on Tuesday evening. But if Democrats have their way, Vincent Sandonato will be ousted.

Sandonato replaced Henry Wojtaszek on the Board of Trustees in late June 2016. The latter resigned the seat upon taking a job leading Western Region Off Track Betting. Sandonato's seat is up for an expected vote at Tuesday evening's legislature meeting.

Democrats, although in a minority, want him replaced. They've nominated Jimmy Cancemi, a retired Niagara Falls schoolteacher who remains active in education and owns a business. Jason Zona, who represents the legislature's 5th District, says Cancemi came forward last year expressing interest in a spot on the Board of Trustees but is not a political person.

Zona and other Democrats take exception to Sandonato's position to keep embattled and now former NCCC president James Klyczek on the job, rather than place him on administrative leave, amidst an investigation into alleged bid-rigging and sexual assault victim-shaming.

"If the federal government announces they're investigating you for improprieties, you have to put that gentleman on leave so that they can do their investigation," Zona said. "Keeping him in that position is doing nothing more than impeding the investigation. That raises a lot of red flags to me."

Sandonato explained why he and his fellow trustees kept Klyczek on the job.

"We didn't any sufficient information," he said. "The Board of Trustees decided to conduct a formal investigation into all the allegations. We hired a law firm to do such. A faction of the Board of Trustees wanted to ignore that for their own personal reasons."

Sandonato dismissed criticism against him as "party politics."

Also under consideration for the seat is Ronald Winkley, a former Town of Lewiston police chief who now serves as a graduate director for Niagara University.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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