The activist responsible for two recent billboards criticizing Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, is emerging as the Democratic candidate against Erie County Legislature Majority Leader Joseph C. Lorigo in November.
Michelle Schoeneman, who raised the money for a two-week anti-Collins message at Hamburg’s Seven Corners, is expected to seek the key seat, according to Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy J. Zellner.
“We have a new activist who is very interested in being involved, and who sees a deficiency in that district,” he said. “She seems to be dissatisfied with government right now and wants to serve the community.”
Schoeneman, 45, a teacher in the Springville school district and daughter of attorney Herbert R. Johnston Jr., started a group called Citizens Against Collins.
The organization has continued to grow, Zellner said, and has organized several local meetings responding to Collins. This week it sponsored a new sign that flashes a picture of Collins with the message: “Chris Collins to WNYers: Drop Dead!”
Schoeneman said the congressman’s vote to drastically alter the Affordable Care Act inspired her internet appeal to raise funds. She collected the $1,440 needed for a week’s rent within three hours via a GoFundMe.com message, she said, with enough left over for a second week.
“After his vote I realized I needed to do something,” she said earlier this week. “Within 15 hours we had the contract signed and the billboard up.”
Lorigo, a West Seneca Conservative who organizes with the Legislature’s GOP majority, faced no opponent in 2014 after posting victories in the previous two elections. He has emerged as a vocal opponent of many Poloncarz administration policies, especially its financing plan for adding a new emergency room to Erie County Medical Center.
He is the son of Erie County Conservative Chairman Ralph C. Lorigo.
“He also lost an election for town justice,” Zellner noted, “so we feel this race will be very competitive.”