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CITY AIDE, 26, IS LIKELY SUCCESSOR TO GRIFFIN

The Common Council will name a new South District representative at a special meeting Friday, and a 26-year-old recreation aide has all but sewn up the appointment.

Jeffrey Conrad's quest to succeed James D. Griffin was virtually ensured Monday when Democratic committeemen in South Buffalo endorsed his bid.

Council members have vowed to honor the recommendation of South District political leaders in filling a seat that became vacant last month. In a move that stunned Griffin's closest allies, the former mayor resigned from the Council less than 15 months after he was elected.

Conrad won the backing of 35 of the 39 committee members who attended the meeting, according to officials at the Erie County Democratic Committee. He was opposed by former South Council Member Mary M. Martino and by Michael Kearns, a former Council legislative aide.

"I'm very thankful," Conrad said Tuesday, referring to the endorsement. "It was an overwhelming vote of confidence."

Conrad, a recreation aide in a city community center, has the support of powerful leaders in South Buffalo, including Rep. Brian M. Higgins and Assemblyman Mark J. Schroeder.

Griffin wanted the Council to appoint Dennis Marek to the $52,000-a-year job. Marek, 30, served as Griffin's legislative assistant since January 2004.

When the Council holds its special session at 1 p.m. Friday, lawmakers are expected to unanimously appoint Conrad to fill the vacancy. But insiders said they expect Conrad to face a Democratic primary in September. In November, South District voters will elect a Council member to fill the remaining two years on Griffin's term.

Conrad has already made one decision, announcing that he will move the South District's main Council office back to City Hall. Griffin had relocated the office to the Tosh Collins Center on Cazenovia Street, saying that it was more convenient for constituents.

e-mail: bmeyer@buffnews.com

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