Robert N. Anderson vows to keep taxes stable if he is elected to the 5th District Erie County Legislature seat on Nov. 5.
Four-term incumbent Thomas A. Loughran says he already fulfilled that promise in 2012 when he broke ranks with his fellow Democrats in the Legislature majority to waylay County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz’s plan for an $8.5 million budget increase. It was narrowly defeated in a 6-5 vote.
“The budget vote was a big one, but since I’ve been there, it’s not the first time I didn’t vote with the majority on raising taxes,” said Loughran.
The former Amherst councilman and longtime owner of Loughran’s bar and restaurant in Snyder is engaged in one of the more competitive races for a two-year seat in the Legislature. His Republican challenger, currently the Amherst town highway superintendent, is just as wary of tax increases.
“I want our taxes to be lower. That’s what is going to spur business,” said Anderson.
Anderson, 63, said he wants to bring his experience crafting budgets and managing public works to the county’s Legislative chambers. Over his 10 years as Amherst highway superintendent, Anderson said he has reduced his $26 million annual budget by $2 million.
Among his successes over his seven years in the Legislature, Loughran, 62, touts his advocacy of reducing the Legislature’s size from 15 to 11 representatives at the end of his previous term in 2011.
Anderson, meanwhile, said he wants to see the county use its finite resources more efficiently. If elected, he would advocate that the county pursue borrowing to help pay for expensive but much-needed bridge and road reconstruction projects.
With current bond rates at about 1.3 percent, Anderson said borrowing for bridge and road reconstruction projects instead of using funds from the county’s operating budget will save taxpayers money over the long haul.
Anderson also wants to work with local members of the State Legislature to reduce the county’s Medicaid burden, and he is against the idea of creating a new taxing authority for the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library. “I think the libraries are very important. However, I’m against increasing taxes, and I’m totally against these separate boards,” Anderson said.
Loughran is eager to see the fruits of a revitalized Erie Community College North Campus, for which he was a strong advocate. “That’s important for several reasons and, I think, for economic development, that college is going to play a role. Our greatest asset is an educated workforce,” Loughran said.
He described himself and his Republican opponent as friends. “It’s a business,” Loughran said of local Republicans’ decision to field a candidate against him.
“I’m sure they want the majority,” Loughran said. “But it’s been a very civil campaign, so far.”
Loughran is also running on the Conservative and Working Families Party lines. Anderson is additionally running as an Independence Party candidate. The Legislature’s 5th District is located wholly within the Town of Amherst.