A familiar voice on Buffalo’s airwaves is eyeing a jump into politics.
Steve Cichon, a former reporter and news director for WBEN Radio, said he is “all in” for a Democratic county clerk candidacy this year. He was spotted Wednesday at the Town of Tonawanda Democratic Committee’s St. Patrick’s Day party at Shannon Pub on Niagara Falls Boulevard, and he said he is receiving encouragement from Democratic Headquarters.
“I would not be telling you I’m all in without pretty decent support and a good feeling from a lot of folks,” Cichon said.
An adjunct professor at Medaille College, Cichon spent 20 years with WBEN, Channel 4 and the Empire Sports Network. He left the broadcasting business in 2013 and sought appointment to a vacant Delaware District Council seat two years ago. He spent nearly three years as a freelance writer for The Buffalo News' history blog, Chronicles.
“Since then, there have been on and off again discussions with Democratic leadership because they knew I might be eventually interested,” he said. “The clerk job makes sense to me."
“People even tell me I look like a clerk,” he quipped.
Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy J. Zellner emphasized that his organization has made no decision on support for the vacant clerk’s post, but sounded enthused about a Cichon candidacy.
“I think he’s a breath of fresh air,” Zellner said. “He’s from the private sector and he’s a professional interested in serving his community.”
The chairman made a special effort to compare Cichon with Michael P. Kearns, the South Buffalo assemblyman who is planning to run in the Democratic primary while also seeking GOP support — as he has for all his Assembly candidacies.
“Steve is a big contrast to someone like Mickey Kearns in that he’s not your usual politician,” Zellner said. “Mickey seems to be in just furthering his political career.”
The Cichon candidacy could present a problem for Zellner’s Democratic leadership. Janique S. Curry, a former Buffalo Board of Education member and close ally of Mayor Byron W. Brown also is seeking the party endorsement this year.
Curry offers the potential of drawing Democratic voters from Brown’s African-American base in the September primary, when the mayor faces a challenge from Mark J.F. Schroeder, the city comptroller based in South Buffalo.
Zellner said he will invite Curry to interview with Democratic leaders for the post this spring, but was non-committal about the mayoral ally.
“The mayor has been a good ally of the Erie County Democratic Committee and we will work to cooperate with him for as little fighting as possible in the primary,” he said.
Cichon marks the second former media name mentioned for the post this year after Joanna Pasceri, a former Channel 7 anchor and current spokeswoman for the Erie County District Attorney’s Office sparked interest from Republican leaders. Pasceri registered last year as a Conservative, opening the possibility of support from at least two parties.
But she said earlier this month she is happy in her current position and will not run.
Local Republican leaders also made no commitment but remain at least interested in a Kearns candidacy.
The county clerk post post has been vacant since the election Christopher L. Jacobs, a Republican, was elected to the State Senate.