Former Rep. John J. LaFalce has stepped down as chairman of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, ending his 14-month tenure overseeing the economic development agency.
LaFalce, who submitted his resignation late Friday, was appointed by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz in March 2012 to replace former National Fuel Gas Co. executive Philip Ackerman as the agency’s chairman.
Poloncarz said LaFalce had attempted to resign as chairman in April, but the county executive persuaded him to remain in his post.
“He deserves to enjoy his retirement,” Poloncarz said after the IDA’s monthly meeting Monday. “I think it was a much bigger workload than either of us anticipated.”
During LaFalce’s tenure as chairman, he presided over a handful of contentious and sometimes tense meetings that were attended by members of Occupy Buffalo.
The protesters frequently made catcalls and interrupted the IDA’s normally staid proceedings and, for a brief period, prompted the agency to hold its meetings in the more spacious auditorium at the Central Library in downtown Buffalo amid a highly visible presence of local law enforcement officers.
LaFalce also was forced to cut short his Florida vacation this winter to return to Buffalo for a crucial March meeting to consider tax breaks for Ciminelli Real Estate Corp.’s $100 million medical office, research and clinical facility on the edge of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. The project had failed to gain enough support from the IDA’s board during the agency’s previous meeting.
Christopher Johnston, president of the World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara and vice chairman of the IDA, presided over Monday’s meeting.
Poloncarz said he would consider other potential candidates for the chairman’s post from among the agency’s current board members as well as from outside the agency.
“We’ll be looking for the best candidate,” Poloncarz said.
LaFalce, who did not attend Monday’s meeting, could not immediately be reached to comment.