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Hamburg is brimming with primaries

Hamburg is brimming with primaries

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A former Erie County legislator is running for supervisor against the endorsed Democrat, the incumbent highway superintendent did not get his party's endorsement for re-election, and a union-backed candidate is challenging the endorsed Democrats for Town Board seats.

The Conservative and Working Families parties endorsed the same two Democrats for Hamburg Town Board, and the Conservatives ignored an incumbent Conservative councilman.

So it goes in Hamburg, where party affiliation and incumbency were no guarantee of an endorsement this year, and the town ended up with six primary races June 22.

There are familiar names running for supervisor. Randall A. Hoak, the son of former supervisor, the late Patrick H. Hoak, is the endorsed Democrat. Randy Hoak also is the older brother of Hamburg Councilwoman Karen Hoak.

He left his job as head of Erie County Senior Services in 2016 to work for AARP, where he led outreach and advocacy efforts in western and central New York. Hoak returned to county government earlier this year as a special assistant to the commissioner of Social Services. He said AARP had a rule that prevented workers like him from running for public office.

Hoak is facing Robert B. Reynolds, a former county legislator and union leader who serves on the Hamburg Industrial Development Agency board. Reynolds said he decided to run for supervisor when Democrats failed to endorse Democratic committeeman Bob Mahoney for town councilman.

Now they are running on a slate as "2 Bobs 4 Hamburg."

In the town council race, Mahoney, a business representative for SEIU Local 200 United and member of the town Planning Board, is running in a Democratic primary against the endorsed Democrats, Carly Whalen Story, a family advocate for Adoption STAR, and Megan A. Comerford, a special education teacher for Frontier Central School District and member of the town Planning Board.

"Why I was snubbed the way I was is beyond me," Mahoney said. "I'm the only Democratic committee member running for office in Hamburg."

He said he believes he deserved the Democratic endorsement and earned the endorsement working for the party over the years, and that's why he is challenging the endorsed candidates.

Hamburg Democratic Chairman Terrence MacKinnon said the endorsement process took several months, with candidates having plenty of time to talk to committee members before they voted on the endorsement. 

"It was the most open and transparent process we have ever had," MacKinnon said. "They voted overwhelmingly for our endorsed team."

He added that all three candidates said if they did not win the endorsement they would not run in a primary, and the supervisor primary was unexpected, too. 

Comerford and Mahoney have the endorsements of the Conservative and Working Families parties. Story is registered with the Working Families party, and she is running in a primary against Comerford and Mahoney.

MacKinnon said because of the pandemic, new rules required Story to be a member of the Working Families Party to run in the party's primary, so she changed her enrollment from Democrat to Working Families before the February deadline to switch parties. After the primary, she will change her enrollment to Democrat, he said.

Edward Hughes, the endorsed Democrat for highway superintendent, was a Conservative but switched his enrollment to Democrat, MacKinnon said.

Hughes, a laborer in the town Highway Department, is running against his boss, incumbent Highway Superintendent Ted Casey. Casey, a Democrat, failed to get the endorsement of Democrats.

It's not just Democrats having issues with endorsements. Incumbent Town Board Member Michael Petrie, owner of Petrie Tile Installation and a registered Conservative, did not get the nod from Conservatives. He said that was because of the influence of former Highway Superintendent Tom Best Sr., who is vice-chairman of the Hamburg Conservatives.

Petrie said he was against the firing of a buildings and grounds worker who is a rival of Best. The worker won his job back through arbitration. Petrie is running in the Conservative primary for councilman with fellow Conservative Amy McKnight, director of activities at Autumn View Health Care Facility. They are running against Mahoney and Comerford, who got the backing from the party.

"We thought they were better candidates," Best said.

Thomas Chmielowiec II, a Building and Grounds Department employee, is running in the Conservative primary for highway superintendent against Hughes.

Chmielowiec, McKnight and Petrie, all registered with the Conservative Party, say they are the "real" Conservatives running for Town Board.

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