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Democrats pick Loughran from Amherst as new minority leader in Erie County Legislature

Democrats in the Erie County Legislature named Thomas A. Loughran of Amherst as their new minority leader Thursday.

Legislator Joseph C. Lorigo, C-West Seneca, was renamed majority leader of the Legislature’s Republican coalition, while John J. Mills, R-Orchard Park, was unanimously re-elected as Legislature chairman during the reorganizational meeting.

Loughran said he expressed interest in the leadership position, formerly held by Legislator Betty Jean Grant of Buffalo, because of his seniority and his ability to get along will all sides.

“I’ve had a record of working with the entire Legislature,” said Loughran, a 10-year veteran in the legislature. “I think you treat everyone with respect.”

Loughran, the longest-serving legislator in the Democratic Caucus, is the only Democratic legislator to serve an entirely suburban district. His election Thursday marks the first time he has been elected to a leadership position in the body. Though he generally votes with his Democratic colleagues, he has broken ranks on rare occasions. In 2013, he voted against a property tax increase proposed by Democratic County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

Grant had hoped to remain minority leader, a position she held for the past two years. Prior to that, she served as Legislature chairwoman in 2012 and 2013. Patrick B. Burke had also expressed an interest in the minority leader position. But Loughran was the only one who could muster enough votes for the seat this year.

Chairman Mills thanked Grant for her leadership.

“We made a good team,” he said.

Grant said she hopes the change in leadership will strengthen the Democratic caucus and that Loughran’s role as minority leader will be respected.

Loughran said he remains focused on ensuring Erie County’s long-term stability and fiscal health. He also said that as minority leader, he’ll work to build consensus and stay abreast of the opinions held by his Democratic colleagues.

email: stan@buffnews.com