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Editorial: Patrick B. Burke for Assembly

Voters in the 142nd district heading to the polls in the April 24 special election should elect Patrick B. Burke to the Assembly. He is the more prepared of two good candidates.

This special election is one among 11 statewide for open Assembly and Senate seats. The 142nd vacancy occurred when Michael “Mickey” Kearns resigned to become Erie County Clerk.

Burke is running on the Democratic, Working Families and Reform lines. His opponent, Erik T. Bohen, a teacher in the Buffalo Public Schools, is also a Democrat. However, Bohen is running on the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines.

Both candidates are capable and caring. They would spend their full energies focused on constituent concerns but for several reasons, Burke is the better choice.

Burke has been an Erie County legislator the past four years. He has worked hard and turned out impressive results, despite being in the minority. Burke, as a Democrat, would be among the majority in the Assembly. He promises to remain independent. There is reason to believe him.

We also believe that he will continue to work hard for his constituents and on statewide issues, where he can make a difference in his major concern on water quality and “gray” infrastructure improvements. Recognizing that this is a Great Lakes city, his work has largely been based on water quality initiatives and protecting the community.

Burke also wants to work on campaign finance reform and what he called an arcane election system designed to limit participation. As one of the active legislators challenging the Erie County Water Authority, he could have a real impact on reforming that political cesspool. The authority should be abolished. Burke suggested making it part of county government.

Burke already has a track record when it comes to statewide issues. He successfully worked with legislators and the county executive to get a law passed in 2015 banning microbeads in beauty and bath products. His efforts to ban gay conversion therapy locally garnered national attention. Unafraid to tackle established practice, he proposed the “Mimosa Law” to make it possible for bars to serve alcohol on Sunday mornings.

This year, he put forward a bill embraced and rounded out by the Republican-supported majority, to earmark $1 million toward the opiate epidemic.

Burke managed to get a lot done in a few years and while serving in the minority caucus. The county legislator found a way to work with his Republican counterparts on arguably state issues with significant local impact.

The South Buffalo resident’s election to the County Legislature back in 2013 came as a surprise. He had no party support. But he ran a grass-roots campaign – himself and a few friends – against the party machine. His win was unexpected and unencumbered by party bosses who might want to call in bids, later. Burke said he will continue that spirited independence, despite being backed by the Democratic Party. His track record, willingness and ability to work across the political aisles lend credibility to the statement.

His opponent, Bohen, is a longtime educator who has been active in his community and political events, for both Democrats and Republicans. He is focused on many important local issues and as an educator might be more suited to the School Board.

Bohen is bright, well-spoken and articulates the gnawing economic and social issues begging to be addressed in the local community. He should be encouraged to continue his efforts to break into elected office, but he would do better – as Burke did – to start locally.

Burke has gained valuable local experience and is well prepared for higher office. The 142nd District includes West Seneca, Orchard Park, Lackawanna and parts of Buffalo.

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