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Zellner staves off chairmanship challenge

 By Robert J. McCarthy

   A legal challenge to the 2012 election of Jeremy J. Zellner as chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee has been dismissed by the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court.

   The suit, brought by supporters of unsuccessful chairman candidate Frank C. Max Jr. --  chairman of Cheektowaga Democrats -- was found to be without merit by the Rochester panel after a similar decision in Buffalo. Max had contended that the vote at last September's reorganizational meeting was unfairly weighted toward Zellner after improper
redistricting in the Town of Amherst engineered by Democratic Elections
Commissioner Dennis E. Ward, the town's former Democratic chairman.

elections commissioner used an arcane provision of election law to redistrict in
Amherst to his advantage," attorney Peter Reese said in filing the appeal last October.

   Zellner was elected by a wide
margin, with about 57 percent of the vote to Max's 43 percent.
   In a statement, he reiterated his contention that he is the legally elected chairman of the Erie County party.

   "This ruling confirms the overwhelming vote by the duly elected committee members of the Erie County Democratic Committee," Zellner said. "At the time of the vote, both candidates for chair stated publicly that they were going to unite behind the winner. It is time for the Democratic Party in Erie County to move forward together and unite behind our strong ticket."

   Max said Monday no decision has been made regarding taking the case to the Court of Appeals.


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