In the Erie County Legislature’s 7th District, three candidates are running against each other in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the seat being vacated by Thomas J. Mazur of Cheektowaga, the Legislature’s majority leader. As in other contests, this race involves two rival factions of the local Democratic Party, each of which has fielded a candidate to go up against a third challenger unconnected to either group.
Democratic headquarters is supporting Lynn M. Dearmyer of Cheektowaga, a former candidate who lost a close primary race against Mazur in 2009. She has received endorsements from Mazur and County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz.
Former Cheektowaga Councilman Richard A. Zydel, who announced his candidacy two months before Mazur announced he would not seek re-election, has the backing of the other faction in the party.
Patrick B. Burke, a South Buffalo resident, ran and lost in a Buffalo Democratic primary in 2012 when a special election was held to replace Michael P. Kearns as the South District Common Council member after Kearns moved to the Assembly. Burke touts himself as the only truly independent candidate in Tuesday’s race because he is not being backed by either faction.
“My opponents are spending a ton of money on mailers,” said Burke, 29, who works as an assistant manager at the Buffalo Irish Center.
“I have to laugh at one side accusing the other,” he added. “I entered this race because leadership in the area has not been inspiring, and I feel like I can do a better job.”
Dearmyer, a lifelong Cheektowaga resident and 1996 Villa Maria graduate, said politics and public service are in her blood. “I grew up with it. As a young person, I was taught to give back and to volunteer,” she said. “I decided to put my hat in the ring once Tom decided to retire.”
Dearmyer touts her experience as an information technology recruiter for Globalquest Staffing Solutions in Williamsville as giving her insight on job creation.
As a legislator, she said she also would be committed to holding the line on county taxes and eradicating blight throughout areas of the district by working with the Buffalo Erie Niagara Land Improvement Corp., a land bank established to curb the problems of vacant and abandoned properties.
“I think the consistent thing I see throughout the district is proliferation of foreclosed homes, whether it’s in South Buffalo, Kaistertown, Sloan or Cheektowaga,” she said.
Zydel, 41, also seeks to address distressed properties in the district, as well as infrastructure issues.
“I would love to improve the infrastructure throughout my district and throughout the county, including roads and bridges that are in desperate need of attention,” he said.
In 2006, Zydel was appointed to the Cheektowaga Town Board to serve out the unexpired term of Dennis Gabryszak after he was elected to the Assembly. Zydel was later elected to one term on the board from 2007 to 2010.
In his bid for a seat in the County Legislature, Zydel, who works as a detention officer at the Buffalo Federal Detention Center in Batavia, is being backed by a faction of the party that includes Cheektowaga Committee Chairman Frank C. Max Jr. and is at odds with the current party administration.
“Although Frank Max is supporting me, he has a very limited role in my campaign,” Zydel said.
Zydel also is running on the Conservative Party line in Tuesday’s primary.
Meanwhile, Burke vowed that if elected, he would take on what he called some of the county’s “pro-sprawl” policies.
“I see it in things like the vast county highway system ... I see it as a hollowing out of our urban centers and as hurting our inner-ring suburbs,” Burke said.
The county’s 7th Legislative District encompasses most of Cheektowaga and Sloan, as well as portions of South Buffalo and the city’s Kaisertown neighborhood.