The race for City Court pits a former prosecutor against a criminal lawyer taking his first shot at elective office.
Meanwhile, two former heads of the Erie County law department are battling an anti-abortion lawyer for two spots on the state bench.
City Judge Tim Franczyk is trying to fend off a challenge from Frank S. Falzone, a defense lawyer and former union official. The judgeship has a 10-year term and pays $94,500 a year.
In the Democratic primary, Franczyk, 40, beat Falzone, 47, by a two-to-one margin. Franczyk also carries the Conservative, Liberal and Independence Party lines.
Mayor Masiello appointed Franczyk to the job last December. Prior to that, he was an Erie County prosecutor for 14 years, head of the district attorney's special investigations unit for eight years and a special prosecutor in a number of Niagara and Chautauqua County cases.
Franczyk carries endorsements from the Buffalo police union, the Police Benevolent Association of the Erie County Sheriff's Department, the United Auto Workers, the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
He is the brother of Fillmore Council Member David A. Franczyk.
Falzone, one of the few officials of Laborers Local 210 of Buffalo never to faulted by government watchdogs, is running with Republican and Freedom Party endorsements. He is a former administrator of Local 210's pension fund. He clerked his way to a legal career by working at Buffalo firms instead of going to law school. He is endorsed by the Sheriff's Department's other union, Council 82 of the Law Enforcement Officers Union, and the city government's blue-collar union, Council 35 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
In the race for State Supreme Court, Justice Eugene F. Pigott Jr. and former U.S. Attorney Patrick H. NeMoyer are the heavy favorites for two 14-year, $113,000-a-year seats against veteran anti-abortion attorney Denis A. Kitchen Jr.
Kitchen, 54, is taking his third shot at a judicial seat since 1994, running as the Right to Life candidate. Pigott, 51, was named to the state court by Gov. Pataki in January. He and NeMoyer, 45, the former U.S. attorney for Western New York who resigned in September for the judicial race, are endorsed by the Democratic, Republican, Conservative and Liberal parties.
Erie County Court judges Joseph P. McCarthy and Timothy J. Drury are unopposed for re-election.