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One of the best known figures in Amherst politics – Highway Superintendent Robert N. Anderson – said Thursday he will challenge Democratic incumbent Thomas A. Loughran this fall for the County Legislature.

Anderson, 62, is serving his third four-year term as the town highway chief, but is prohibited by town term limits from running again for the post. His entry into a race that could help determine control of the Legislature had been widely rumored in recent weeks, and on Thursday he made it official.

“I believe all the improvements I brought to Amherst, as well as a lot of hard work and dedication, is what I can bring to the County Legislature,” Anderson told The Buffalo News.

He also said he felt most voters in the area are familiar with his name and record as superintendent, pointing to success in various refuse collection and highway maintenance programs. He is also well known as a Swormville volunteer firefighter and from membership in other fire organizations.

Democrats hold a 5-4 advantage in County Hall, where Loughran has generated controversy by voting with the GOP against tax hikes included in the budget proposal of Democratic County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz.

Erie County Republican Chairman Nicholas A. Langworthy said he believes Anderson will prove an important element of the effort to capture a GOP majority.

“This is certainly one of the marquee races this fall,” the chairman said.

“There have been several close races for this seat in the past few years, and this is one that I will be focused like a laser on.”

Anderson comfortably defeated Democrat Kathy Kaminski in 2011 after winning a second term by only about 2 percentage points four years earlier.

email: rmccarthy@buffnews.com