Political scramble for succession to veteran Amherst officials


Whichever direction this fall’s vote goes, 2023 will see the long-elected official leave the Amherst scene.

City Councilman Deborah Bruch-Bucky and Road Supervisor Patrick G. Lucy Jr. are barred from seeking re-election under the town’s term limits law. And the town’s Attorney General Jeffrey K. Klein, who has been on the bench for 24 years, says he’s not running for a term anymore.

Their departure from the town government has created a race for three vacant posts in Erie County’s most populous suburb.

Town Democrats expressed their support last week, including nominating the county’s senior service commissioner for a seat on the town’s board of directors.

Amherst Democratic Party Chair Michele M. Ianello said, “We are presenting a high-quality candidate and we believe Amherst voters will make a good choice to vote.”

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“The biggest problem is that we have a one-party rule in Amherst,” said Town Board challenger Daniel J. Ryder. “We are not discussing anything publicly.”

Republicans met last Monday night and the ballot was filled with one slot left.

“I think we have a good, strong, financially conservative ticket with a lot of experience,” said Amherst Republican Party Chairman Brian D. Rusk.

This year in Amherst, two town council seats, one town judicial post, and the offices of town clerk and town highway manager are on ballot.

Bucky, who was named deputy superintendent earlier this year, is entering the final year of his second term on the Town Board after winning the 2015 and 2019 elections. .

Lucy is a former Amherst Police Lieutenant and her father, Patrick G. Sr., was a highway superintendent for 22 years.

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Young Lucy ran as a Republican in 2015 and won by just 21 votes, but just before the 2019 election she ran as an independent and switched party affiliation to the Democratic Party.

And Klein, a Republican, defeated the Democratic incumbent in 1999 and is re-elected every four years thereafter, usually with the support of the Amherst Democrats. Amherst’s Term Limitation Act, passed in 2006, does not apply to town judges.

Democrats have a sizeable registration advantage in the town, with 43% of active registered voters compared to 28% for Republicans, according to November state registration data.

They hold all elected offices across towns, including supervisors and four other Town Board seats, with the exception of Klein judges.

Amherst Democrats voiced their support on Feb. 8.

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Ianello said he would endorse former Town board member Town Clark Francina Spos for re-election.

In the Town Board election, Democrats supported Erie County’s Medicaid inspector general, Rep. Michael R. Shuzkala, for a second term.

And they supported the election of Angela J. Marinucci, county senior service commissioner, to Bucky’s seat. Marinucci is an attorney who ran for Erie County Clerk in 2018.

She is a former Grand Island resident who moved to Amherst several years ago, said Iannero.

If Marinucci is elected and Suzukalla is re-elected, senior county nominees will occupy three of the four seats on Amherst City Council. Alderman Sean Rabin is the vice chairman of the county’s Human Resources Department.

Democrats favor Stephen E. Floss as Lucy’s successor. Stephen E. Floss is the forestry director and veteran of the town’s road department with 33 years of experience. Floss was former president of the union representing highway workers, and after serving as chairman of the town’s Conservative Party, left the latter post to run for superintendent of the highways.

According to Iannero, Democrats supported Amherst City Court Administrator Anne F. Nichols to replace Williamsville Village Judge Jeffrey F. Volkl as Klein’s successor.

“First of all, we’re in the business of electing Democrats,” Iannero said. We have Democrats in control of our town and we need to win one more seat and I believe we will. It means being the judge of the town.”

As for Republicans, Rusk said on Monday that they had decided to mutually endorse Spos this year, with committee members praising her nonpartisan accomplishments in a post.

On the Town Board, Republicans supported Robert Gilmore for one of two seats. Gilmore is a former Republican Amherst chairman and longtime chairman of the Town Planning Commission, which works in the insurance industry.

They are not in favor of the second seat and are waiting to see if Richard “Jay” Anderson commits to the race.

Jay Anderson previously served one term on the Town Board and won the 2009 election. His father, Richard, is a former Erie County Rep. and state legislator.

Amherst Republicans had previously endorsed Richard Wainwright as highway superintendent. Told.

They have also previously endorsed Voelkl, with Rusk hailing him as “very highly regarded in the legal and judicial circles.”

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