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Small Talk

With absentee ballots counted, it seemed likely that Barbara Miller-Williams would come out on top in her Democratic primary rematch with Tim Hogues for the 1st District seat on the Erie County Legislature. Miller-Williams’s attorney, Adam Perry of Hodgson Russ—ubiquitous when it comes to this sort of election work for Grassroots candidates—filed six pages of challenges to the validity of absentee ballots on Tuesday, based on the information on the envelopes they were mailed in. By the end of the day, Miller-Williams had dropped all but about 40 challenges; Hogues’s team had none. Interestingly, the Miller-Williams team at the Erie County Board of Elections included staffers for New York State Senator Tim Kennedy.

The abstentee ballots added 43 votes to Miller-Williams’s 20-vote election night lead. In all, about 7,500 votes were cast. No word on whether Hogues will go to court to ask for a hand-count of all the ballots.

• Also on Tuesday, the election of Pat Burke to the 7th District seat on the Erie County Legislature was all but certified: The only uncounted election district was in Burke’s own neighborhood; those votes added to his margin of victory over Lynn Dearmyer and Rick Zydel and made it unlikely that absentee ballots would change the result. Burke reports that representatives to the two warring factions of the Democratic Party—the Frank Max camp, which backed Zydel, and the Jeremy Zellner camp, which backed Dearmyer—have been quizzing him to see whose side he might take, and who he might support for chair of the Legislature. Burke says he has told both sides that he doesn’t care who chairs the Legislature; he’s more interested in pursuing policy than picking sides.

Kevin Gaughan’s campaign for Erie County Comptroller sprang to life this week. Last Thursday, he held a press conference at th Rath Building to chide both his opponent, incumbent Stefan Mychajliw, and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz for the handling of this summer’s fiasco over mishandling personal information from county residents. Gaughan targeted Poloncarz in order to establish his independence from a fellow Democrat, but his real huckleberry was the Republican Mychajliw:

“Mr. Mychajliw’s actions in this incident befit a public relations man, not a public servant,” Gaughan said in his press release. “He succeeded in appearing on television, but failed in addressing the problem.”

This Tuesday, Gaughan criticized Mychajliw for accepting a $2,000 campaign donation from J. D. Crane, owner of Tonawanda Coke, which faces up to $200 million from the federal government for polluting the air and ground; the company’s environmental compliance officer faces up to 75 years in prison.

“As a journalist, Stefan Mychajliw and his media colleagues rightfully condemned Tonawanda Coke,” Gaughan said in his press release. “But as a public official charged with protecting the public trust, Stefan shows that he values his political health more than the public’s health.”

Gaughan called on Mychajliw to return the donation. So far, Mychajliw has been silent. This should be a fun race to watch: The Erie County Republican Party is banking on Mychajliw, because they view him as a strong challenger to Poloncarz in 2015.

• The Coalition for Economic Justice (CEJ) will hold a town hall meeting on the impact of economic development programs in Western New York on Sept. 26 at the Williamsville Branch Public Library, 5571 Main Street, Williamsville.

Presentations will focus on the costs of industrial development agencies (IDAs) to area taxpayers, municipalities, schools, and public services. The event will include opportunities for participants to share their perspectives on how these economic development agencies can improve their performance, accountability, and transparency to create quality jobs and benefit the community.

The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided. To register or for more information, call 892-5877 or visit

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