Western New York Democrats will go to the polls on Sept. 9 to select nominees for two seats in the State Legislature: the 63rd Senate District, covering Lackawanna, Cheektowaga and parts of Buffalo; and the 141st Assembly District, which covers part of Buffalo.
The Buffalo News typically does not endorse in primary elections except in races where winning the primary is tantamount to election. Here are our endorsements in those two primary races:
141st Assembly District
The obvious choice is the incumbent, Crystal Peoples-Stokes. Even against better opponents, she would be a strong candidate, but the fact is that her two challengers are ill-suited to the job.
Peoples-Stokes understands the position. She is well-versed in making Albany work for her constituents and she brings a strong sense of ethics to the job. And, significantly, she is interested in continuing to grow and to learn new things – and does so.
Her two opponents in no way match up. Former State Sen. Antoine Thompson is unapologetic about how he misused his former office and remains unconcerned about following rules. He never filed the required final campaign finance report after leaving the Buffalo Common Council in 2006. Thus, voters have no way of knowing for sure what he did with the $16,000 that remained in that account.
In addition, Thompson owed $56,289 in back taxes to the federal government as of the end of 2013 and was $7,820 behind in child support. He says he has caught up on child support and has worked out a three-year payment plan with the Internal Revenue Service on the taxes. Is that why he wants this job? If so, it’s not a reason for voters to support him.
Community organizer Veronica Nichols is passionate about her city neighborhood. Indeed, most of her concerns seem better suited to a Common Council agenda than one at the State Legislature. Without any political experience to support her bid for a state office, her obvious goal should be in city government.
63rd Senate District
Voters are fortunate to have two good choices, but Sen. Timothy Kennedy has earned another term.
Kennedy has pushed major legislation related to child protection. The senator understands the importance of continuing the transformation at the waterfront and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, and supporting the private investment occurring all over the city.
He is also building seniority in the Senate, increasing his ability to influence proposals that will attract jobs, development and training.
His opponent, Erie County Legislature Minority Leader Betty Jean Grant, is well-intentioned and passionate about serving her constituents. She wants to ensure communities receive designated funding, youth jobs and workforce training. Grant has formed committees on safe neighborhoods and re-entry for former convicts seeking employment.
However, Kennedy’s accomplishments outweigh Grant’s potential.
Sunday: Governor and lieutenant governor.