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Democratic CPA is likely to oppose Mychajliw

Erie County Democrats appear to be settling on a member of the Frontier Central Board of Education as their candidate for county comptroller this year.

Lynn M. Szalkowski, a certified public accountant from Lake View, has been talking with Democratic officials about challenging Republican incumbent Stefan I. Mychajliw in November, according to Jeremy J. Zellner, the party’s county chairman. With no other potential Democrats investigating the office, she becomes the front-runner for the party’s endorsement, which is expected no later than May 4.

“She provides a big contrast to him,” Zellner said, referring to Mychajliw. “She has the credentials for the job, and she’s fiercely independent. I don’t think anybody will tell her what to do.”

Szalkowski, 39, now works as comptroller for a construction company operated by the Seneca Nation, Zellner said. Except for school board elections, she has never before run for public office.

Democrats feel confident about their chances against Mychajliw, even though the former television reporter scored a convincing win last November against Democratic appointee David J. Shenk.

Mychajliw’s victory was considered especially significant because the Republican won in overwhelmingly Democratic Erie County in a presidential election year, when turnout always proves heaviest.

But now the Democrats are countering with a female candidate with an ethnic last name from the suburbs who is expected to emphasize her CPA credentials.

Though Mychajliw last ran as recently as November, his 2012 effort was for the remainder of the unexpired term of Mark C. Poloncarz, who was elected county executive in 2011. Mychajliw and Szalkowski would be vying for a full four-year term.