Dixon faces new Independence challenger as Dems choose Chimera, Casey and Eskew to run for seats in Legislature
A new round of political machinations is resulting in substitute candidates for high profile Erie County races as well as some early skirmishes in the 2018 campaign.
Republican county executive candidate Lynne M. Dixon, a member of the Independence Party, will now be challenged on her own line by Grace Christiansen, 24, of Lake View. She replaces Rachel L. Obenauer, 23, who was originally submitted as the Independence candidate but declined.
Local Democrats have not denied encouraging the minor party contest, with Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy J. Zellner even predicting another Independence challenger for Dixon earlier in the week.
Now Dixon faces a minor party challenge that will cost significant money, and which Republicans say results from Democratic interference in Independence. On Friday, she accused the incumbent county executive, Mark C. Poloncarz, of orchestrating the ballot manipulation despite his stated opposition to state laws that allow candidates to compete on multiple lines.
“Mark Poloncarz used staff from the County Executive’s Office, county department heads he appoints directly, the Erie County Democratic Committee’s executive director and Erie County Democratic Board of Elections staff, including his own brother, to dupe voters into putting up a candidate he controls to face me in a primary for the Independence line,” Dixon said. “If Mark Poloncarz was so interested in the Independence Party line, he should have had the backbone to face me himself instead of misleading voters.”
Jennifer L. Hibit, the county executive’s chief of staff, asked why the development ranks as “a big deal.”
“It’s the same thing every year in Erie County politics,” she said. “I just don’t understand why they are so suddenly so angry about it.”
Hibit also noted that many local Republicans routinely run on the Independence line, and that Dixon is now receiving a genuine primary challenge from a fellow party member.
Christiansen did not return a call seeking comment.
Other ballot substitutions stemming from the Board of Elections include the Democratic selection of Tonawanda Councilwoman Lisa M. Chimera to replace Peter J. Savage III as the endorsed candidate for the County Legislature’s District 3.
Savage, the Legislature’s chairman, said last week he will not run for re-election and will instead pursue an appointment to a Buffalo City Court vacancy. That means Chimera is now expected to appear on the June 25 primary ballot along with two other Democratic candidates – Cindi M. McEachon and David M. Amoia.
A Democratic source said Amoia appeared at a Thursday meeting of the District’s Committee on Vacancies, but he did not speak.
Chimera, who has frequently been mentioned in Democratic circles over the past few years as a potential candidate for higher office, is a 12-year veteran of the Town Board and a Ken-Ton District teacher.
The committee also voted Thursday to replace East Aurora Trustee Michelle J. Schoeneman with Thomas P. Casey of Aurora as the endorsed legislative candidate in District 10. He is now expected to face Minority Leader Joseph C. Lorigo in the November general election.
In addition, retired teacher Kate Eskew will replace Jerome T. Janik (who also declined his nomination) in the 11th District to face incumbent John J. Mills, R-Orchard Park.