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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Maria Updegraph
Maria Updegraph is seeking the 2nd Ward seat on the Lockport Common Council, the Spalding Street resident announced this afternoon.

“I love Lockport. I have loved Lockport my whole life,” she said. “This city has faced a series of difficult challenges, and we need leaders who have shown they are willing to give back, to personally invest in the future of this city.”

“I am a real person dealing with the real problems in Lockport: blight, aging infrastructure and finances," the mother of three said. "It’s becoming hard for the average person to want to buy a home in the city. Rising taxes and sewer/water costs, dealing with crime, neglected properties: I am here to find the positive ways to turn problems into opportunities for the betterment of our entire community.”

Updegraph, owner of Dark ride Studios, a special effects company and decorative building molds manufacturer based in Lockport, has been both vocal and active in her neighborhood in recent years — organizing several charity and community-based event. She and her husband James are actively restoring several historic properties in the city’s 2nd Ward.

In addition to helping coordinate a neighborhood watch centered on Spalding and Erie Streets, Updegraph also organized the “Haunt for Hunger”—a Spalding Street block-wide haunted house that collected canned goods for local food pantries. She also organizes the “Gobble for Goods,” which collects ingredients to make homemade pumpkin pies for the Salvation Army’s free Thanksgiving meal.

Updegraph said she has tried to emphasize the importance of community involvement and activism, but it is her business-world experience that sets her apart.

“Lockport needs leaders who understand how the private sector works, how payrolls work, and how businesses create jobs,” she said. “From growing up on a family farm on the edge of the city to running a special effects company with my husband, I have learned the lessons impacting the people paying our city’s taxes, and I am committed to making government work for them.”

Updegraph said she would set three touchstones as a candidate and elected official:

  • Containing costs. “With a $23 million budget and a $10 million tax levy, as a city leader I will work to find every wasteful spending line and eliminate it, while working to preserve the services our taxpayers value,” Updegraph said.
  • Welcoming business. “I will support policies that result in an environment that produces private sector job growth.”
  • Citizen involvement. “I have served on boards and committees working to make Lockport a better place. I will make sure that we continue to reach out to our residents and give them an opportunity to help drive policy and initiatives. Lockport works when everyone is part of the solution.”

Updegraph is a member of the city’s Sesquicentennial Planning Committee, responsible for planning the 150 events that will mark the city’s 150th birthday this summer, as well as the board of directors of the Lockport Housing Authority. She also worked to help organize Saturday’s Easter celebrations in Lockport.

Updegraph, a graduate of Niagara County Community College, works part-time as a sales representative for Flight of Five Winery. She and her husband, James, have three children, daughters Maleah and Zureidy, and son Julian.

She is seeking the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines.

Democrat Anita Mullane currently holds the 2nd Ward seat, which she won in a special election in November.

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