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Hamburg Democrats endorse Best over incumbent Potter-Juda for Town Board

Hamburg Democrats endorsed a newcomer for the Town Board seat over the incumbent councilwoman.

Democrats endorsed Thomas M. Best Jr. for the four-year term in a secret ballot, Town Democratic Chairman Michael P. Quinn Jr. said. Coming in second was Cheryl Potter-Juda, the current councilwoman who was elected nearly two years ago.

Last month, Potter-Juda said that if she did not win the party’s endorsement, she would circulate petitions to force a primary in September. She could not be reached to comment on her current plans.

Quinn, who also is a Town Board member, said he had not spoken with Potter-Juda since the vote and did not know whether there would be a primary.

“I’m just hoping the party will be unified going forward,” he said.

Democrats also endorsed Walter L. Rooth III for town justice, a position now held by his father. Rooth, who currently is town attorney, beat Blasdell Village Justice Daniel P. Grasso for the endorsement. Town Clerk Catherine A. Rybczynski won the party’s endorsement for reelection without any opposition.

A Lackawanna teacher, Potter-Juda won the two-year seat on the board in 2013, and had said since she joined the board, it has changed from a “dysfunctional legislative body into one that works collaboratively.”

Best retired after 22 years with the Hamburg town Police Department, where he had been president of the Police Benevolent Association, and is an M&T Bank officer. He also serves on the Frontier Central School District. His father, Thomas M. Best Sr., is Hamburg highway superintendent.

Best Jr. changed his affiliation from Conservative to Democratic last year.

Rooth was an assistant Erie County district attorney for 10 years, serving as gang prosecutor and chief of the Felony DWI Bureau, where he tried numerous felony jury trials. He has been in private practice in Hamburg for nine years, handling real estate, wills and estates, criminal law and other general practice matters.

Rooth has been a coach with the Hamburg Little Cagers for 20 years and the Hamburg Junior Baseball League for three years. He was an emergency medical technician with the Hamburg Fire Department. He has received Hamburg’s Service to Youth Award, and is the former mock trial coach for Frontier High School. Rooth is a volunteer driver for Meals on Wheels and is a former board member for the Hamburg Counseling Center, and currently is on the board of directors for the Beechwood/Blocher Foundation.