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Replacing Mickey

Remember Bryan Bollman? Of course you don’t. Bollman is an assistant to Common Council President Rich Fontana, a job that has drawn him to the center of the political spotlight exactly once: as a potential candidate to replace Tim Kennedy in the Erie County Legislature after Kennedy won a seat on the New York State Senate in 2010.

Fontana advanced Bollman as a candidate for that vacancy, which eventually went to Tim Whalen, the favored candidate of Congressman Brian Higgins’s South Buffalo political operation, of which Kennedy is a member.

Now Fontana is advancing Bollman as a replacement for Mickey Kearns, who has just won a seat in the New York State Assembly—defeating Chris Fahey, a Higgins man, to fill the vacancy left by Mark Schroeder, another Higgins man.

Kearns is supporting his own aide, Matt Fisher, for the South District seat, which will be filled by a vote of the eight remaining members of the Common Council. Whalen, too, has submitted his name for the job, as have eight others, but the three leading candidates are Bollman, by virtue of Fontana’s support—which probably means the support of the mayor and the Council’s majority coalition; Fisher, because the Council minority will support kearns’s choice; and Whalen, because he has friends on the South District Democratic Party committee. The committee will vote to recommend a candidate to the Council; most often in the past, the Council has respected the wishes of the party’s committee people. That changed when it came time to replace Brian Davis as the Ellicott District’s representative; the committee recomended Darius Pridgen but the Council appointed Curtis Haynes. Pridgen subsequently won the seat in a popular election.

That’s important because it means Pridgen is unlikely to vote for a candidate other than the one recommended by the district committee; he simply can’t, given what happened to him and what he has had to say about it. Fisher probably won’t get win the committee vote, though he is generally well liked, because Kearns doesn’t have much pull with the committee. The Higgins team does, but Whalen may have to count on his own relationships with the members of the committee, which are substantial, because a rift has opened up between him and his former allies. (Apparently, Whalen was considered insufficiently supportive of Fahey’s Assembly bid.) If Fontana can pull the Higgins committee members behind Bollman, then Bollman wins with the majority coalition’s five votes. If not, then Bollman has at best four votes, assuming Pridgen abides by the committee’s recommendation. Then it’ll get interesting.

Candidates for the seat will be interviewed by the Council on Monday, April 16, beginning at 9:30am.

In other Common Council News

On Wednesday morning, the Common Council’s Rules Committee met to discuss nothing. The members tabled two items on the committee’s agenda were again tabled and the meeting was adjourned.

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