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At 26, he's the youngest person on the nine-member Common Council.

At 6-foot-3, he's also the tallest.

Still, the shadow that Jeffrey M. Conrad cast in the glare of television lights at Friday's swearing-in ceremony was dwarfed by the political stature of the man he replaces.

Conrad seemed to recognize that fact moments after he was appointed South District Council member. His first order of business was to thank James D. Griffin for more than four decades of public service in various elected posts.

Griffin, the city's longest serving mayor, didn't attend Friday's ceremony, but it was his stunning decision to resign last month that triggered Conrad's good political fortune. Democratic leaders in South Buffalo recommended Conrad to fill the vacancy until voters elect someone this fall to serve the remaining two years of Griffin's term.

The Council followed the wishes of Democratic committeemen, appointing Conrad in a 7-0 vote. Some lawmakers said they were lobbied by other prospective candidates, including Dennis Marek, the man Griffin wanted as his successor. Marek was Griffin's legislative assistant.

But Masten Council Member Antoine M. Thompson said there's a tradition of allowing party leaders in the district to fill vacant seats.

"It would be shameful to not respect the process of the Democratic committee," Thompson said moments after the vote was taken.

Conrad said his priorities include finalizing a compensation plan for homeowners who live in the contaminated Hickory Woods neighborhood. He said he also supports Council efforts to reach out to the Seneca Nation of Indians in hopes of landing a casino for Buffalo.

Conrad also said he supports plans to build a Bass Pro in Memorial Auditorium, but wants to review a memorandum of understanding before he commits to providing public subsidies for the project.

Conrad, a former recreation aide in a city community center, told about 60 friends, relatives and government officials who attended the ceremony that he doesn't intend to be a silent lawmaker.

"You'll be hearing a lot from me," he said. "I'm a talker."


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