Newcomers seek to topple incumbents in Tuesday’s Legislature races - The Buffalo News

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Newcomers seek to topple incumbents in Tuesday’s Legislature races

A Republican and two Democratic candidates are game to tackle the odds in Tuesday’s election as each seeks to unseat an entrenched incumbent in the Erie County Legislature’s 3rd, 4th and 6th districts.

Republican Jennifer P. Stergion, a Buffalo lawyer, said she is undaunted by the prospect of taking on Democratic incumbent Lynn M. Marinelli in the Legislature’s 3rd District, despite Marinelli’s popularity and status as the longest tenured lawmaker currently serving in the Legislature.

“I think with my background in psychology, criminal justice and law, I am built for this job,” said Stergion, 45, who runs a small law practice in the city’s Riverside neighborhood.

“I understand how the jail operates, how corrections works, policing works and what mental health services the Department of Social Services offers. I have direct knowledge of how these operations work through my practice.”

Marinelli, a Town of Tonawanda resident, is seeking her ninth full term in the Legislature and has formerly served as its chairwoman. A supporter of the county’s public libraries and cultural institutions, Marinelli, 51, also touts a strong working relationship with County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz.

In the Legislature’s 4th District race, Democrat William C. Conrad III, 35, of the Town of Tonawanda will face two-term Republican incumbent Kevin R. Hardwick.

Conrad, an economics teacher at Kenmore West High School, said he seeks to bring substance to the Legislature and proposes that lawmakers occasionally spend at least half a day observing and talking to county workers in the various departments to get a better handle on what should be lawmakers’ priorities.

Hardwick, a City of Tonawanda resident and longtime political science professor at Canisius College, is most concerned with fostering more collaborations with local governments as a means to continue holding the line on taxes.

“I think we’ve done that since I’ve been legislator,” said Hardwick, 56.

Democrat Alan K. Getter, 35, of Clarence acknowledges his uphill battle in seeking to unseat three-term Republican incumbent Edward A. Rath in the Legislature’s 6th District.

A certified public accountant who has helped craft budgets in various local school districts as an assistant superintendent, Getter said he aims not only to keep the county tax rate down but launch a comprehensive review of expenditures.

“You’ve got to look at expenditures because, eventually, you run out of fund balance. That’s what I’ve done for school districts and businesses over the years,” said Getter.

Rath, 46, who spends his time away from the Legislature working for various utility companies, plans to make county infrastructure improvements a priority in a fourth term. “Because, when we prioritize our infrastructure, we’re guaranteeing public safety. We’re creating jobs and we’re improving our quality of life,” said Rath.

The Legislature’s 1st District race is a virtual repeat of the 2011 race, this time with incumbent freshman Legislator Timothy R. Hogues, 41, running on a minor party line against former Legislature Chairwoman Barbara Miller-Williams. She previously held the seat that Hogues now holds. Having won the Democratic primary this time around, Miller-Williams, 56, is, presumably, in a more favorable position for Tuesday’s election, like Hogues was two years ago. Hogues said he still is waging an active campaign while relegated to only the Working Families Party line on the ballot.

Hogues wants to continue his focus on education and crime-prevention programs, while Miller-Williams seeks to have greater community outreach for the county’s social services programs. The 1st District is located wholly within the City of Buffalo.

South Buffalo bartender Patrick B. Burke, who was the surprise winner in a three-way 7th District Democratic primary race in September, will on Tuesday face Republican and Independence Party candidate Elias A. Farah of Cheektowaga, a financial adviser with Merrill Lynch, and Working Families and Conservative Party candidate Richard A. Zydel, a former Cheektowaga councilman.


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