ERIE COUNTY LEGISLATURE
If you live in Districts 1, 2, 6, 7, or 11, congratulations: There is only one name on your ballot. That affords you two choices. You can vote for the incumbent or you can do what we usually do in such cases: Write in the name of the person you wish represented you.
If you live in a district with a contested race, here’s what we would do:
Incumbent Pete Savage is a bit too cozy with Majority Leader Joe Lorigo for our tastes, and his job as an attorney for developer Nick Sinatra feels like a conflict of interest waiting to happen. If he had a serious Republican opponent, we’d endorse him wholeheartedly, because we think the majority coalition on the Legislature needs to be toppled. But the Democrat’s opponent in this reliably Democratic district is Anthony Baney of the Green Party, an outspoken advocate for legalization of marijuana. This is Baney’s second shot at elected office, having run for Assembly last year in the 140th District. He won’t win this time, either, but let’s give him enough votes to encourage him—and other Green Party candidates—to continue to seek office and to break the hegemony of the two major parties. We endorse Anthony Baney.
The incumbent is Kevin Hardwick, a political science professor at Canisius College and, it seems, one of the last reasonable Republicans. It’s hard to find fault with Hardwick, except inasmuch as he enables a majority coalition run by District 10 Legislator Joe Lorigo. Likely Hardwick will be reelected handily. Knowing that, why on earth wouldn’t you vote for Brian Phillips, who appears on the Women’s Equality Party line?
Incumbent Democrat Tom Loughran faces a formidable challenge from Republican Guy Marlette, Amherst deputy supervisor, a job he will be term-limited out of. Both are popular. Loughran has not exactly been a dynamo on the Legislature lately, but, apart from Democrat Pat Burke in District 7, who is? If we lived in District 5, we’d be tempted to vote for the Green Party candidate, Ruben Cartagena. But in the end we’d vote for Loughran in hopes of upsetting the majority coalition that runs the Legislature now. That can’t happen if Loughran loses his seat.
This is easy. Republican incumbent Ted Morton has been a useless travesty of a legislator, and was only elected first time around (and then re-elected) because Democrats couldn’t shoot straight. The campaign waged on his behalf has been revolting; he actually claimed that his challenger, Democrat John Bruso, is the puppet candidate of “East Side political bosses,” which is as unsubtle a way of trying to evoke the specter of African Americans invading the suburbs as I have seen in years. Morton’s colleagues are secretly embarrassed by him. Bruso is your guy here.
Democrat Michael Quinn has raised a lot of money to challenge incumbent Independent Lynn Dixon, who caucuses with the Republican-led majority. That should be no surprise: Quinn is well connected in Democratic politics, particularly with labor, and has a solid base of support in Hamburg, which comprises most of the district’s voters and is solidly Democratic. But Dixon has held that seat because she has crossover appeal. If there were any hope that Dixon would actually cross over to caucus with Democrats, we’d be conflicted. Again here, however, a vote for Quinn is a vote to unseat a majority coalition that, under the leadership of Joe Lorigo, prefers politics to governance. Take Mike Quinn. Dixon will doubtlessly find another way to serve her community.
Incumbent Conservative Joe Lorigo, the Legislature’s majority leader, has run an appalling and deceitful campaign. The raison d’être of this spoiled child of Erie County Conservative Party leader Ralph Lorigo is to run for higher office, and he uses his position in the Legislature—and his father’s influence in local and state politics—to snipe at political rivals. His Democratic opponent, Michelle Schoeneman, is a teacher who jumped into local politics by spearheading a campaign to erect billboards critical of Republican Congressman Chris Collins. We think it’s a good idea to freshen our politics with new faces; that she is attempting, against political odds, to replace Lorigo makes this call even easier. Vote Schoeneman.