Leg­is­la­ture chair­man eyes court seat

Demo­crat Sav­age de­clines nom­i­na­tion for re-elec­tion

The Buffalo News - - CITY&REGION - By Robert J. McCarthy

Peter J. Sav­age III, chair­man of the Erie County Leg­is­la­ture and an in­flu­en­tial fig­ure in lo­cal Demo­cratic pol­i­tics, has de­clined nom­i­na­tion for re-elec­tion to his Dis­trict 3 seat just days af­ter sub­mit­ting des­ig­nat­ing pe­ti­tions for an­other term.

It is now ex­pected that Sav­age will be in line for a Buf­falo City Court ap­point­ment to a seat now held by Chief Judge Thomas P. Amodeo, who has an­nounced his re­tire­ment.

Board of Elec­tions of­fi­cials said that Sav­age, who has held the seat based in North Buf­falo and the Town of Ton­awanda since 2014, of­fi­cially de­clined the seat on Mon­day. Now a Com­mit­tee on Va­can­cies com­posed of Dis­trict 3 Democrats will meet Thurs­day at the North­west Buf­falo Com­mu­nity Cen­ter to con­sider a re­place­ment on the bal­lot.

Erie County Demo­cratic Chair­man Jeremy J. Zell­ner, who is also an elec­tions com­mis­sioner, said the com­mit­tee will con­sider Lisa Chimera and Am­ber A. Small, though he is invit­ing oth­ers to ap­ply.

Chimera, a 12-year mem­ber of the Ton­awanda Town Board who is fre

quently men­tioned as a Demo­cratic can­di­date for higher of­fice, drew high praise from Zell­ner on Mon­day.

“She is a very strong can­di­date,” he said. “I am very im­pressed with her and she’s done a great job in Ton­awanda.”

But the chair­man also praised Small, who ran against Sav­age in a 2014 spe­cial elec­tion and un­suc­cess­fully chal­lenged Christo­pher L. Ja­cobs for the State Sen­ate in 2016.

“I am also very im­pressed with her,” he said.

Sav­age ac­knowl­edged he de­clined the nom­i­na­tion just days af­ter gath­er­ing pe­ti­tions and sub­mit­ting the nec­es­sary pa­per­work for an­other term. But he said Mon­day it was only af­ter Amodeo an­nounced his re­tire­ment last week af­ter 29 years on the bench that he con­sid­ered the pos­si­bil­ity of a ju­di­cial ap­point­ment to fill the va­cancy.

“I’ve de­cided not to seek re­elec­tion be­cause I wanted to pur­sue an­other of­fice, and I need to be hon­est with the vot­ers,” he said. “Judge Amodeo, my long­time men­tor, has sur­prised us all with the an­nounce­ment he will re­tire. If there is a po­ten­tial open­ing in that of­fice, I will pur­sue it.”

Also an at­tor­ney in pri­vate prac­tice, Sav­age is a for­mer City Hall staffer long con­sid­ered close to Mayor By­ron W. Brown, who would ap­point a re­place­ment for Amodeo.

“I worked for him for a num­ber of years,” Sav­age said when asked if he has dis­cussed the post with Brown. “He will not be sur­prised about me hav­ing in­ter­est at this point. I’ll leave it at that.

“But I want to pur­sue this ap­point­ment this year,” he added. “I just be­lieve it’s the right thing to do.”

Fol­low­ing sub­mis­sion of des­ig­nat­ing pe­ti­tions last week, how­ever, it ap­peared that Sav­age would face a chal­leng­ing pri­mary for his leg­isla­tive seat against fel­low Democrats Cindi M. McEa­chon and David M. Amoia. Democrats on Thurs­day are now ex­pected to choose an­other can­di­date to re­place Sav­age on the pri­mary bal­lot.

John Hickey/News file photo

Peter Sav­age wants to pur­sue a City Court judge­ship.

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