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Things to keep an eye on as 2013 approaches

In less than three weeks, Santa Claus will have made his annual trip around the world, wrapping paper will be strewn around living rooms and the 2012 Christmas holiday will become a permanent fixture in our memory banks.

This means that in less than a month, not only will it be 2013, but another year will be behind us.

Things are beginning to quiet down in some cases as we go down the home stretch of 2012, but it is only going to set up some interesting stories for the coming year.

Among the big topics in 2013, as it is in most years, will be politics.

After a year which saw Barack Obama win a second term as our nation’s President, Chris Collins make a big political comeback and win a seat in Congress and several other major races, including for Erie County Comptroller, State Assembly and State Senate, the year will bring some new faces, familiar faces and old faces in new places.

When the clock strikes midnight on Jan. 1, 2013, the countdown will begin and there will be key local political races we will be watching throughout the year.

One of the biggest locally will be in Hamburg, where the now three-person board will see the entire board – Supervisor Steven Walters and Councilmembers Amy Ziegler and Joseph Collins – have their seats up at the end of 2013 and must decide if they will seek additional terms on the board.

It is key because it is a fractured board with Collins often at odds with Walters and Ziegler over key issues facing the town.

And with another political party, the Hamburg First Democrats in existence, this is shaping up to be one of the hottest races of the year.

Another hot issue could be whether voters in the Towns of Hamburg and Evans decide to seek a referendum to “right size” the respective boards.

It appears that if this is going to be the case, it will be driven by voters to try and place a referendum on the ballot.

Despite residents in West Seneca and Alden voting against the idea of returning those boards to five members during a vote in November, we hope voters in Hamburg and Evans have the opportunity to go to the polls and decide if they are happy with the current state of the boards.

The important factor in all of this is that it must be voter driven, and not placed on a referendum by either board.

The reduction in size has continued to cause logistical nightmares at times for the boards. At a time when towns are facing major increases in pension costs, the question still remains, would town residents in Hamburg and Evans benefit by having two additional members to help solve the problems?

Voters should have the right to decide.

• With Christmas a few weeks away, there is still many holiday events for families to enjoy, including Christmas in the Village of Angola this weekend.

Based off the crowds in places like Hamburg and Blasdell, organizers should plan on large groups of people taking advantage of the fun.

We want to give credit to the brave souls who endured rain, wind and falling temperatures on Sunday at Hamburg Town Hall to enjoy the first “Help Stamp Out Hunger” holiday event, which was filled with hayrides, pony rides, holiday classics being played on a projector screen in the courtroom, face painting and treats for the kids to enjoy.

After coming from the Buffalo Bills game and sitting in the rain all afternoon, it was amazing to come over and see the people taking in the festivities and it was almost as if it was 80 degrees and sunny.

Family and the holiday spirit proved to be stronger than the wind, and in the end, a good time was had by all who attended.
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