Erie County Democrats Could Choose Two Chairmen
One of four people interested in becoming Erie County’s next Democratic Party Chairman says it’s time to think “outside the box.” Buffalo Democrat and Committee member, Marc Panepinto, is proposing that the responsibilities of the position be split between two people.
“I’m going to propose if we can’t come to a consensus candidate that we change the party rules at the meeting in September and we do a co-chairman situation,” Panepinto said.
Panepinto told YNN Buffalo’s Ryan Whalen outside of meeting in Lackawanna Monday Night, that selecting a chairman to represent the City of Buffalo, and a chairman to represent the city’s suburbs may be the best solution.
“Right now, the New York State Democratic Party does the same thing. They’ve got a city chair and an upstate chair and they’re co-chairs of the statewide party. If it’s good enough for the state we should try it here in the county,” Panepinto said.
Len Lenihan led the Erie County Democratic Party for more than a decade before announcing his retirement last month. Although he hasn’t made a public endorsement some believe that Lenihan wants the party’s former Executive Director, Jeremy Zellner, to take over.
Zellner is the chief of staff for the Democratic Majority in the Erie County Legislature and has worked closely with Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. Some committee members favor a candidate that doesn’t have close ties with the County Executive.
Poloncarz has been active in this process so far and sources say he will have influence over who the next chairman is. Speculation was that the County Executive would announce his choice after Monday Night’s meeting. He made no endorsement.
Two other candidates, local businessman, Jim Eagan, and Cheektowaga Democratic Chairman Frank Max, have also filed their intentions with the board of elections. Eagan owns and operates Midwood Financial Services and told YNN last week that his strength is in fundraising. He wants to utilize social media and other technology to enhance democratic candidates.
Max says he’s confident in his qualifications but believes the decision will ultimately come down to a weighted vote at the party’s reorganizational meeting in September.
“It’s a fair process. Ultimately the committee men will decide at the convention. So if there are decisions made by leadership that they don’t like, they obviously have the final say and I’m very comfortable with that,” Max said.
With 1,774 possible votes though the committee’s 887 districts party leaders say there are a lot of variables.
“People have the right to choose. If the candidates decide to back out and put all their support behind a single candidate, it obviously makes things easier in the end, but the opportunity is there for them to stay in through the end and for this to go through for each individual vote to be counted,” said Darien Pratchett, Chair of the City of Buffalo Zone Chairs.
Panepinto hopes his proposal will benefit him directly. And that he can be one of the new “co-chairs.” He’s even approached another candidate with the idea.
”I’ve talked to Frank (Max) about it and frankly my biggest hurdle is convincing Frank that he can’t win on his own and we should win together.”
|Print article||This entry was posted by Casey Bortnick on August 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm, and is filed under Erie County. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|