Share this article

print logo

Joyce quits party chairman contest

Former Niagara County Coroner James M. Joyce withdrew his name from consideration for county Democratic Party chairman Friday, throwing his support to former chairman Nicholas J. Forster.

Forster has been building support, especially among labor unions, for weeks in a planned effort to regain the chairmanship he held from 1996 to 2002.

But instead of running against Daniel Rivera, who had been chairman since 2006, he finds himself lined up against Jeremy M. Schnurr, a North Tonawanda attorney who was chosen chairman by the party's executive committee when Rivera resigned Wednesday.

Rivera and Schnurr work in the same Buffalo building, and Schnurr said Thursday that Rivera approached him to see if he'd take the job after Schnurr had expressed some interest previously.

"I've known Nick for years," Joyce said Friday. "I had a nice, long talk with him. He's got a tremendous amount of labor support, more than any race I've ever seen in 30 years."

Forster said, "Jimmy and I share the same thoughts on moving the county Democratic Committee forward."

Schnurr said talk about who's running for chairman is premature, since the party's reorganizational meeting won't be held until after the primary election for state and local offices.

By law, that meeting must come within 20 days after the primary, which will be held June 26.

Joyce issued a statement thanking the Democrats who had urged him to pursue the chairmanship and asking them to back Forster.

"Through his proven leadership, we can restore our party to its former greatness," Joyce's statement said. "The role of county chairman is too vital to our party to have anyone other than an experienced leader in that capacity. A chairman with limited party involvement and on-the-job training skills is not what will restore our party to its greatness."

Also Friday, veteran Democratic attorney Morton H. Abramowitz said that after reviewing the party bylaws, he thought Schnurr's election broke the rules.

Abramowitz, who was asked by Joyce and Forster to analyze the situation, said first vice chairwoman Ida Massaro should have taken over and called a meeting of all committeemen, not just the executive committee, to choose a new chairman.

Massaro rejected Abramowitz's views. "We followed the bylaws, and if anybody has a problem they'll have to take it to court or do what they have to do," she said.

Forster said he has no interest in a lawsuit, calling the notion "a big waste."