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Candidates for Erie County sheriff, Buffalo mayor report fundraising

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John C. Garcia (copy)

John C. Garcia, who is seeking the Republican nomination for Erie County sheriff in 2021, in a file photo from Feb. 26, 2016. 

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The two Republican candidates for sheriff who will face each other in their party's June 22 primary are locked in a fierce battle for campaign funds.

John C. Garcia and Karen L. Healy-Case are reporting six-digit figures as they compete in an unprecedented GOP primary.

The latest campaign finance reports to the state Board of Elections show Garcia raised about $191,000 with almost $148,000 on hand. Healy-Case, the endorsed Republican, has been unable to file because of software problems at the board, her campaign said, but disclosed she raised about $148,000 since January and has a balance of about $133,000.

And in the so far quiet Democratic primary for mayor of Buffalo, the new reports show challenger India B. Walton raised about $84,000 as she takes on incumbent Byron W. Brown.

As he promised early on, Garcia is demonstrating early strength with contributions to date.

"It's a great indication of my support," Garcia said Wednesday, "with many people from all political affiliations."

He said he has since added $5,000 from a fundraiser last week in Orchard Park, with several more planned – including a June 10 event that he expects will draw 250 to 300 supporters.

Supporters of Healy-Case, meanwhile, also touted the retired Buffalo police lieutenant's ability to raise campaign funds. She did not return a phone call Tuesday, but campaign consultant Christopher M. Grant said her submitted report was unable to be registered on the board website. Already she is airing a planned $100,000 worth of television ads emphasizing her experience and opposition to what she describes as "unconstitutional mandates" imposed by New York State.

Previous records indicate she loaned her campaign $28,000, while Garcia chipped in $50,000 of his funds.

"Setting aside the loans, she has outraised him in donations," Grant said.

Stephen Felano, a gun rights advocate who had previously announced his GOP candidacy and filed a campaign finance report in January, is out of the race. Board of Elections officials say he failed to submit enough signatures on designating petitions to qualify for the primary.

Democratic filings, meanwhile, so far depict a sheriff's race far less awash in campaign funds. Brian J. Gould, the Cheektowaga assistant chief and endorsed Democrat, has raised almost $58,000, with about $21,000 on hand. He has also been on cable television and in digital media. His contributions reflect his status as the party candidate, with $3,000 from Cheektowaga Democrats, $7,000 worth of in-kind support from the Erie County Democratic Party, and $1,000 from Democratic Chairman Jeremy J. Zellner.

Gould also loaned his campaign $4,000.

His main rival in the Democratic primary, Kimberly L. Miller-Beaty, raised almost $34,000 and reported a current balance of almost $19,000. The former deputy commissioner of the Buffalo Police Department, Miller-Beaty reported mostly small contributions, with six at the $1,000 level. She received $2,500, her highest contribution, from John Hurley, president of Canisius College, where Miller-Beaty is director of security.

Myles L. Carter, who has been active in civil rights causes and is also a candidate in the Democratic primary, reported he raised about $4,600 with a balance of about $1,900.

In the contest for mayor, Brown's report also did not appear on the Board of Elections website. Jessica Smith, his treasurer, said the campaign submitted a report that did not register because of software problems at the board.

"It is a widespread issue with many campaigns across the state," she said.

Board spokesman John W. Conklin acknowledged software problems occurred on Friday, but that other campaigns were able to report by continuing to attempt filings.

"We're telling them to keep trying until they get through," he said.

Smith said the campaign reported raising about $173,000 during the last period, with $207,000 now on hand.

While nowhere near the mayor's totals, Walton noted significant strength in her campaign by raising almost $84,000, with about $53,000 on hand.

Her report featured several substantial contributions, including $5,200 from Carl Nightingale, $5,000 from Jason Katz-Brown and $5,000 from Martha McCluskey. She reported one contribution of $20,040 with no attribution.

"Not too shabby for a girl not taking money from corporate interests or developers," Walton said Tuesday. "It's all grassroots fundraising from folks all over the country."

In another mayoral development, Walton called Brown's failure to accept her challenge to debate "nothing short of a disgrace."


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