Ninth District Erie County Legislator Lynne M. Dixon prides herself on being an independent voice in the Legislature, even though she caucuses exclusively with the Republican minority.
Dixon, an Independence Party candidate, was first elected to the Legislature in 2009. She was recruited by former Republican County Executive Chris Collins to take down then-incumbent Democrat Robert B. Reynolds Jr. who, at that time, was seen as an obstruction to Collins’ agenda.
Despite her association with Collins, Dixon said she had no problem balking after his administration cut funding to the county’s public library system.
“I will not vote for this budget with these cuts to the libraries,” Dixon said she vowed when Collins’ 2010 budget was released to the Legislature.
Michael R. Schraft, Dixon’s Democratic opponent in the Nov. 5 election, takes issue with her claims to independence.
“From my understanding, she has a 100 percent voting record with the Republican Party,” Schraft said of Dixon.
The 35-year-old Hamburg resident describes himself as a Democrat with a conservative bent. After joining the Air Force at 18, he went to work for the State Department and was later stationed in Afghanistan. While in the military, he earned an associate degree in finance. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from SUNY Buffalo State, a master’s in public administration from SUNY Binghamton and is pursuing a Ph.D. in political science at the University at Buffalo.
Schraft supports term limits for elected officials who, he said, should spend no more than four to 10 years in office.
Dixon, who resides in the Village of Hamburg, is a graduate of West Virginia University and was a television journalist for 12 years at WGRZ-TV.
“Something that I witnessed as a reporter and I never liked was the grandstanding and … the finger-pointing," said Dixon, 48. “I believe if you sit down together you can resolve many issues.”
In addition to working well with Republican lawmakers, such as State Sen. Mark Grisanti on a variety of bipartisan economic development and public safety issues, Dixon said she also has worked cooperatively with Democrats at all levels of government. They include Rep. Brian Higgins, Assemblyman Sean Ryan, Lackawanna’s Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski and 1st Ward Alderman Abdul Noman.
Schraft said he is also experienced in the arts of persuasion and compromise, but that the 9th District needs a stronger advocate in the Legislature.
“I hate the phrase ‘bring home the bacon,’ but you need a strong advocate for economic development for our district. Unfortunately, the current incumbent is not a strong cheerleader for infrastructure development. I think she waits way too long to bring our crumbling roads to the forefront,” Schraft said.
Dixon countered: “Just because I don’t yell and scream on the floor of the Legislature doesn’t mean that I’m not digging my heels in in terms of trying to get things done. ”
“My first term in office, Eden-Evans Center Road was a problem for 25 years … I got the county to come in with funds to fix that section of Eden-Evans Center Road that was putting a lot of people at risk,” Dixon added.
Dixon also is running on the Republican and Conservative Party lines. Schraft also has the Working Families Party line.
The 9th District includes Lackawanna, Hamburg and a small portion of South Buffalo.