Democratic Erie County Legislator Patrick Burke posted an unintentionally funny Instagram video, featuring his 7-year-old son, to make it official: He's running for the State Assembly seat vacated by Michael Kearns after Kearns was elected to serve as county clerk last year.
The independent-minded South Buffalo resident was elected to the Legislature in 2013 without party support, but since then appears to gained respect from party leadership for his willingness to work hard and put forward proposals that have gained support and attention over the past four years.
"Even though I haven't been 'their guy,' I think I've been someone who's led on the issues that are important to people," Burke said.
Burke successfully worked with legislators and the county executive to get a law passed in 2015 banning microbeads in beauty and bath products. He also gained national attention for his attempt to ban gay conversion therapy locally – originally giving his proposed law the acronym PENCE in a dig at the vice president. He also proposed the "Mimosa Law" to make it possible for bars to serve alcohol on Sunday mornings.
This year, he put forward a bill, co-opted and fleshed out by the Republican-supported majority, to earmark $1 million toward the opiate epidemic.
In the video announcing Burke's run for the seat, his son, Patrick "Pat-Pat" Burke III, stands behind his father, making faces, donning a hat, and generally hamming it up for the camera.
Burke, 33, said he's been frustrated that other proposals he's sought to move forward, including bills affecting water quality, pesticide control and expanded broadband access, have been stymied by state-level rules and regulations.
"I've done most of the work I think I can do a local level, and I think it's just time to take that to a state level," he said.
Though it is not certain that Gov. Cuomo will call for a special election this spring, Burke said he's preparing as if there will be one and expects to mount the same door-to-door campaign to gain support from the local community. He also is moving ahead with fundraising and expects to gain support from labor.
"I feel strongly if there is a special election, that I will be the Democratic candidate," Burke said.
Burke is not the only candidate seeking the seat, though he is considered a frontrunner. He faces strong opponents in South Council Member Christopher P. Scanlon, Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey M. Szymanski and Buffalo teacher Erik T. Bohen.
Story topics: Political notebook