LOCKPORT – The new face of the Lockport City Council includes four women and four men.
New alderwomen elected last month – Catherine Perretta, Christina Bergbower and Renee Saban – were sworn into office Wednesday night along with re-elected incumbents Mayor Steven Streit and Alderman Darren Deskin.
Also sworn in were new City Clerk Kathleen Gentile, as well as incumbent City Treasurer David Palya.
Along with Joanne Bartelsen – who defeated incumbent Denise Marynowski in 2015 – there are now four women on the city council.
In 2001, two women were elected to the city council – incumbent Diane Seiler and Denise Clements – but since then there has been only one, when there has been a woman on the council.
Perretta, representing Ward 4, called the new gender composition of the council “historic,” but her election is also notable because she now fills the former seat of her husband, Bob Perretta, who decided not to run after eight years on the council.
Both Perretta and Bergbower, representing Ward 2, ran unopposed. Bergbower takes the seat of Brian Smith, who also chose not to run after 12 years on the council. Saban defeated incumbent Kris Capadona, who joined the council in 2013.
Gentile also ran unopposed as outgoing Clerk Alice Matteucci decided not to run again. Deskin and Palya also were unopposed. Streit defeated his challenger, Joey A. Jerminas, with almost 75 percent of the vote.
Outgoing officials Bob Perretta, Smith, Capadona and Matteucci were presented with awards and words of appreciation by Streit.
Streit said that as a new mayor in 2013, he had relied on veterans Perretta and Smith for information on past city council actions.
Smith said “the years flew by,” which he attributed to “getting busy and enjoying it.” About differences among council members and complaints from residents over the years, Smith said, “We all have concerns [about] things … I looked at it like that.”
Bob Perretta said that new Alderwoman Catherine Perretta “is the inspiration that has enabled me to do what I do every day.”
“[Catherine] has really been my strength and my rock,” he said.
Bob Perretta also thanked the residents of Lockport, who he said have been “so special and kind to me.”
Catherine Perretta has an MBA in strategic marketing and worked with her husband at Humana before deciding to stay at home after their now 11-year-old daughter, Julie, was born.
She said she plans to be as accessible to residents as her husband had been, adding that she would like to see city officials doing scheduled walks in the city in order to engage further with residents.
Catherine Perretta also said that she looks forward to working to bring more retail business into the city as she herself tries to do her shopping at local stores.
“Half the success of a town is if you can get people to spend money in your town,” she said
As for taking on her husband’s seat as a freshman, Catherine Peretta joked that her years supporting her husband and having regular discussions about city business around the dinner table was “like an apprenticeship or mentoring program.”
Although, she explained, “we have not agreed on every vote he has cast.”
Catherine Perretta also said she would not be surprised to see Julie running for office one day.
“You can expect her in eight years to be on the council,” she said.
Saban, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Honig-Bell, said in a later interview that she is looking forward to working on the vision that Streit and the council have had in place.
“The current city council has done a great job in building a good momentum with the growth of the city,” Saban said. “I’m just hoping to work with them and keep that momentum moving forward.”
Bergbower, owner of the Dairy Queen in Lockport, also is looking forward to working on getting more businesses – small and large – into the city.
“I would like to see Lockport become a tourist and shopping destination,” Bergbower said in a later interview. “It has a lot of unique things to offer that are unexplored.”
She said that without the residents of Lockport she would not have been able to run a business in the city for 17 years.
“I am very grateful and this is my way of giving back,” she said.
As for the increased number of women on the council, Bergbower said that anyone running for a public position should not focus on gender but rather that the candidate is “right for the job, care[s] about the city and will make sure that their decisions are best for the city as a whole.”