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Thomas M. Johnson Jr., a Cheektowaga town councilman for the past 29 years, has announced his candidacy to replace Erie County Legislator Raymond K. Dusza, who is retiring at year's end.

Johnson, 63, like Dusza a Democrat, said his years on the Cheektowaga council and as a supervisor at Goodyear Dunlop Tires, have taught him the need for accurate budget forecasts that he said are necessary for the county to come through its fiscal crisis.

"The county desperately needs responsible and knowledgeable people managing county finances," Johnson said. "We have a lack of accountability, accurate forecast reporting and a number of people who are simply not familiar with the process."

Johnson said his constituents are worried about future property tax increases as well as the distribution of county services, including the parks and the Sheriff's Department.

Johnson said his district in Cheektowaga is larger than the one Dusza serves as the legislator representing South Cheektowaga, Depew and Lancaster.

Dusza, 70, who often ran unopposed in his 15 years on the Legislature, announced his retirement March 24, saying the bitterness of the county budget debate upset him.

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