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Dems choose Johnson to succeed Miller-Williams in County Legislature

Democrats seeking to fill the 1st District seat in the Erie County Legislature Monday nominated longtime committee member and community activist Howard Johnson to succeed Legislator Barbara Miller-Williams, who is not planning to run for re-election.

Miller-Williams is seeking appointment to the Buffalo Comptroller's seat vacated by Mark J.F. Schroeder earlier this month.

"Tonight it was a unanimous vote," said Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Jeremy Zellner late Monday.

"There weren't any other candidates nominated or who were at the meeting to seek the endorsement," he added.

The result is that Johnson is now the endorsed Democrat for the 1st Legislative District seat – which is up for grabs in November.

For now, Miller-Williams is still the legislator representing the 1st Legislative District, but she did not seek the endorsement for re-election to that seat Monday, and will instead seek the party's endorsement for city comptroller in this year's election, Zellner said.

It is the second such endorsement in recent months by the committee, which convened to nominate Timothy J. Meyers to fill a vacancy in the 7th District seat in the County Legislature that was left by the election of Patrick B. Burke to the State Assembly.

"Now we're in the political season, so we're doing endorsements early because the January primary is early and the petition process is early," Zellner said.

Johnson is a veteran with a 17-year background in the banking industry and holds a bachelor's degree in business management from SUNY Buffalo State.

Since 2002, he has worked for M&T Bank and the former HSBC Bank in a wide variety of roles focused on account security and compliance with federal laws regarding money laundering, terrorism financing and financial fraud.

Johnson has worked as a management consultant for the Erie County Division of Budget and Management since March.

Johnson's political experience includes extensive service as an officer with Buffalo's Unity Coalition. He is a Democratic committee zone chair in Buffalo.

"It will be an honor to follow Barbara Miller-Williams, and a challenge to live up to her extraordinary record as an advocate for this district and its people," Johnson said in a written statement released Monday.

Zellner said Johnson's qualifications for the office are impeccable.

"There is no one who loves our community more than Howard Johnson, and no one better qualified to stand up for all the people of this district as Barbara Miller-Williams has always done," Zellner said.

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