Legislature chairman eyes court seat
Democrat Savage declines nomination for re-election
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.
Peter Savage wants to pursue a City Court judgeship.