Dixon faces new In­de­pen­dence chal­lenger as Dems choose Chimera, Casey and Eskew to run for seats in Leg­is­la­ture

The Buffalo News - - OBITUARIES - By Robert J. Mc­Carthy NEWS PO­LIT­I­CAL RE­PORTER

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.

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