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Ronald J. Anthony will continue his role as commissioner on the NFTA, after the Erie County Legislature selected him as its representative on the 11-member governing board.

In a last-minute change of plans, Legislator Joseph R. Desmond, D-Eden, withdrew his bid to join the board of commissioners of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, opening the door to Anthony's selection.

For the past several months Anthony had been considered a sure bet to be the legislators' pick. In fact, twice in the past two years the Legislature unanimously called on Gov. Cuomo to reappoint Anthony, pointing to his years of service and experience.

However, when freshman lawmaker Desmond stepped forward two weeks ago, insiders predicted Desmond's colleagues would be bound to support him, thus ruining Anthony's chances.

Anthony admitted the turn of events left him wondering if his days at the NFTA were drawing to a close.

"It was a little rocky," he said with a chuckle. "But I felt continual optimism. I've had support on both sides of the aisle for quite some time."

Legislature Chairman Roger I. Blackwell cast the only "no" in the 15-1 vote for Anthony. Blackwell said that his was not a vote against Anthony, a nine-year veteran of the NFTA, whom he greatly respects.

"My vote is consistent with my support of Joe Desmond," Blackwell said. "He had asked me for my support and I gave it to him."

Charles M. Swanick, D-Kenmore, did not attend Thursday's session.

Desmond, 24, who has earned the respect of his colleagues in the past six months for his enthusiasm and energy, received a round of applause after he announced his withdrawal.

The Legislature took no action Thursday on the contract that will govern the county's fiscal relationship with the NFTA. Lawmakers said although they don't expect any problems with its approval, they wanted more time to review it.

It will be the focus of discussion at next week's meeting of the Legislature Transportation Committee.

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