Editor’s note: This editorial is the last in a series endorsing candidates for offices. These endorsements by the editorial board are intended to aid voters in their evaluations of those seeking office. Whether you agree or disagree with our recommendations, we urge you to vote and take part in our electoral process. The Buffalo News is making endorsements in the five Erie County Legislature contests with major party nominees.
Republican incumbent Kevin Hardwick has worked diligently as a member of the Erie County Legislature and easily wins our endorsement. A professor of political science at Canisius College, he was first elected to the Legislature in 2009. He has also served as a City of Tonawanda councilmember and, before that, was administrative assistant to Warren M. Anderson, then the State Senate majority leader.
He brings that accumulated experience and commitment to his service on the County Legislature, where he is passionate about Erie Community College. He is also cautious, wanting more information on proposals to require earlier closing times for bars.
His Democratic challenger is Todd Porter, a 24-year-old member of the Ken-Ton School Board and recent law school graduate. He has some good ideas – eliminating town industrial development agencies, for example – and we hope he remains interested in public service. But he doesn’t make the case for replacing Hardwick.
This is a difficult race in that there are two above-average candidates. But Democratic incumbent Thomas A. Loughran’s slender list of accomplishments gives the edge to Republican Guy R. Marlette.
Marlette, deputy supervisor of the Town of Amherst, offers new blood in the district, a renewed vitality. Loughran fit that role when he took office in 2006. Back then he acted as a leader, calling for downsizing the Legislature and standing up to fellow Democrats on fiscal matters. But since those early days when he unseated an incumbent during the county’s turbulent financial times, he has largely been in the background.
Marlette, however, has proven willing to stand out, helping bring financial stability to Amherst. He has developed a strong background from union contract negotiations and government structure, and promises to keep a close eye on county finances. He understands the City of Buffalo’s importance as the core of the region and is against the wholesale redistribution of sales tax revenue proposed by fellow Republican and county executive candidate Raymond W. Walter.
Voters in the district have a chance to hit the reset button. Marlette is term limited and seeking another opportunity to serve the public. He should get the chance in the County Legislature.
This is an easy call, in large part because the opponent to Republican incumbent Ed Rath is not ready for this position. Rath, who has worked in the energy business for 25 years, is running for his fifth term on the Legislature and can boast a number of accomplishments, including a cyberbullying law. As a member of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, he opposes its duplicative and intrusive equal pay policy and a pending effort to require businesses using their services to adopt a pro-labor card-check policy.
Yet, he says he is for term limits but will not commit to limiting his own service. And he praises the proposal by Walter to redistribute sales tax revenues, hurting Buffalo just as it is starting to awaken from a 50-year slumber.
His Democratic opponent, Riyam Wannas, is an immigrant from Syria and only six years ago knew no English. She has a stirring personal story, but knows little of county functions and wants mainly to be a unifying force within the 6th District. She is clearly interested in public service, and should keep learning and stay involved.
Erie County Legislator Ted Morton proved himself a disappointing candidate when he ran for office (and won) two years ago. This time is no different. We endorse Democrat Debra Liegl.
Liegl, who has a background in banking and is former CEO and president of the Cheektowaga Chamber of Commerce, brings a lot to the table. She has experience working with the business community and wants to keep an open dialogue with residents on key concerns, such as vacant housing, taxes and roads.
She has studied the issues and through her own role with the chamber had a chance to interact on various levels of local government. The fact she couldn’t sit on the sidelines is admirable.
Morton has had his troubles. Two years ago came the revelation that he violated ethics rules as a financial planner by borrowing money from his clients between 2009 and 2012. He was fined and suspended by regulators and fired by his then employer. He recently admitted that he previously misstated the amount of debt he owed to creditors after he was elected to office.
Residents of the district deserve better. It is time to give Liegl a shot.
Lynne M. Dixon, I-Hamburg, has been an active and effective county legislator and has earned re-election.
She has pushed a number of important pieces of legislation, including downsizing the County Legislature, the ban on microbeads, limits on “vaping” and an extra $5 million for roads in the county budget. She wants contaminated soil removed from the old Bethlehem Steel property, not just shifted on the site. She backs the effort to expedite foreclosures to fight “zombie” homes. She sponsored the Yellow Dot and Silver Alert programs designed to keep senior citizens safe.
She called for the resignation of Carol M. Dankert-Maurer as commissioner of Social Services after the deaths of children who should have been protected by the department.
Dixon, an Independent, is a reliable vote for the Legislature’s Republican majority, although she takes issue with Walter’s proposal to redistribute sales tax revenue.
Her opponent, Daniel Hawrylczak, a Buffalo insurance agent, is active on housing issues but is not accomplished enough to replace Dixon.