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Scanlon to get South Council seat Father a key figure in Griffin's tenure

The son of a legendary political figure in South Buffalo is expected to be appointed to the Buffalo Common Council today.

Christopher P. Scanlon, son of John "Scanoots" Scanlon, has the support of at least five Council members to fill the vacant South District seat, Majority Leader Demone A. Smith told The Buffalo News on Tuesday.

Lawmakers will vote on the appointment during a special session scheduled for 9 a.m. today in Council Chambers.

Scanlon, who was one of five people interviewed for the post Tuesday morning, would fill the seat that was left vacant after Michael P. Kearns won a March 20 special election for the Assembly.

Scanlon, 30, is an assistant manager and bartender with Western New York Pub Group, which operates Colter Bay Grill on Delaware Avenue and W.J. Morrissey's Irish Pub on Mississippi Street.

He said he had been planning to run for the remaining term of the South seat in an election to take place this fall but decided to throw his name in after seeing how the appointment process was moving along.

"The people of the district are looking for a young, independent thinker devoid of ties," Scanlon said during his interview with the Council, "someone not looking to appease political factions, but looking for someone who can think on their own, vote their conscience and only do what's in the best interest of South Buffalo."

His father, John Scanlon, was a key figure under former Mayor Jimmy Griffin but also worked in city government during the Masiello administration.

Scanlon has an associate degree in business administration from Erie Community College, according to his resume. He is currently enrolled at the University at Buffalo pursuing a bachelor's degree in business administration.

Ten other candidates, including former Kearns aide Matthew Fisher, were interviewed by lawmakers for the appointment. Fisher received the endorsement of the Democratic Party committeemen in the South District on April 14.

Fillmore Council Member David A. Franczyk said he still plans to support Fisher in today's vote.

"He's got the qualifications," Franczyk said of Fisher.

Smith said that in addition to himself, the other lawmakers who intend to vote for Scanlon are Council President Richard A. Fontana, University Council Member Bonnie E. Russell, North Council Member Joseph Golombek Jr. and Ellicott Council Member Darius G. Pridgen.

That means Golombek, who had been supporting Fisher, provided the crucial fifth vote needed for Scanlon to get the appointment.

The North Council member said the reason he shifted his support to Scanlon boiled down to his not thinking a fifth vote could be found for Fisher.

For good or bad, compromise is around every corner in politics, Golombek said, adding that Scanlon is young and energetic and "seems like he'd be a good team player."

City lawmakers had been facing pressure from some South Buffalo residents to fill the seat. Some demonstrated on the steps of City Hall on May 3 calling for an appointment to be made.

The South seat has been vacant one week less than the Ellicott seat was following the resignation of Brian Davis in November 2009, Golombek said, adding that he thought it took the Council longer than it should have to fill the Ellicott vacancy.

The Council began searching for someone to fill Kearns' seat by soliciting resumes near the end of March and into early April.

Initially, the Council received 11 resumes and from that pool conducted interviews with six candidates April 16. But no one candidate emerged with the five votes necessary to obtain the appointment, in part because questions arose about the residency of one candidate and the criminal background of another.

April 30, the Council began taking resumes again.

Several of those interviewed by the Council, including Fisher, have said they plan to run for the post in the fall, when the remaining three years of Kearns' term will be up for election.

Besides Scanlon, the others who submitted resumes in the latest round were Frank Badaszewski, an employee of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority; James J. Creahan, a former border agent; Kevin M. Lafferty, a detention officer; and Thomas J. Sullivan, a former aide to West Seneca Supervisor Sheila Meegan.

Smith, who represents the Masten District, described Scanlon as "fresh" and said he believed Scanlon put on a "pretty good" presentation during his interview, seemed independent, very professional and likable.

"We picked the person that would be least controversial," Smith said.

Smith said he wanted to make a selection without getting involved in South Buffalo politics, adding that the politics will be handled later in the year surrounding an election.

The Council wanted to conduct a special meeting to vote on the appointment Tuesday afternoon, but several members had left after the regular Council session, Smith said.

email: abesecker@buffnews.com