Intense lobbying efforts are under way in City Hall by two contenders vying for the post vacated last Monday by former Common Council Member at Large Barbra A. Kavanaugh.
Fillmore Council Member David A. Franczyk and Niagara Council Member Robert Quintana are seeking the seven Council votes needed to replace Ms. Kavanaugh, who resigned with about 11 months remaining in her term to become director of the state attorney general's Buffalo regional office.
Though both claim progress toward the appointment, Quintana seems to hold at least one advantage through the backing of Erie County Democratic Chairman G. Steven Pigeon, who has become involved in the process.
"I think it looks good for Quintana," Pigeon said over the weekend. "There is nothing cast in stone, but he's likely to have the endorsement."
The party nod constitutes only part of the process, however, since the Council makes the ultimate choice.
Quintana is not making predictions but believes he is making headway.
"It's down to Franczyk and I, but I think I'm 90 percent there," Quintana said. "At this point we feel we have enough votes, but things can turn very quickly."
Quintana vows he will run for the post in November even if he does not receive the interim appointment. He acknowledges, however, that being the incumbent successor to Ms. Kavanaugh would provide a good starting position.
Several sources close to the situation emphasize that nobody has lined up the seven necessary votes. The matter will not be settled for at least two weeks, City Hall sources said.
One of those insisting that the matter remains open is Franczyk.
"I'm optimistic I'll put the votes together," he said. "I've paid my dues, done a very good job, and I've earned it."
Franczyk pointed out he carried the citywide vote twice as a 1994 congressional candidate and can do it again. And he is undaunted by the apparent preference of party headquarters.
"That's fine," he said of Pigeon's leaning toward Quintana. "I would like to have him support me, and I'll continue to lobby his support."
City Hall sources point out that Pigeon could be favoring Quintana because he will have more influence in choosing a successor for the Niagara District seat than for a Franczyk's Fillmore District.
Pigeon is said to favor Leonard Sciolino Jr., 28, an employee of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority, for the Niagara post. But other sources indicate the Masiello administration would prefer Lourdes Iglesias, a mayoral appointee to the Charter Review Commission.