Last night, the Cheektowaga Town Board refused to make public a report detailing a months-long corruption investigation inside the Town’s Highway Department. The Board did vote to send the report to the New York Attorney General’s Office for further investigation.
Highway Superintendent Mark Wagner, a well connected player in the local Democratic Party apparatus, is implicated in the report and is expected to be the subject of a forthcoming criminal investigation.
On a WGRZ Channel 2 report by Dave McKinley, Wegner admits to many of the report’s allegations, which could have serious legal implications. Wagner has hired a defense attorney.
The other faction of the party is controlled by Frank Max, the Chairman of the Progressive Democrats of Western New York and a longtime fixture in local politics. He has been a supporter of Town Supervisor Mary Holtz.
Cheektowaga, a populous and heavily Democrat-enrolled town, will be a pivotal battleground that operatives expect to determine this year’s County Executive’s race.
Many Democrats are expecting the Progressive faction to field a primary candidate. Assemblyman Michael Kearns has not made a decision whether to run. Other names have been floated in political circles, including Camille Brandon, a deputy County Clerk; Joe Golombek, the Buffalo Councilman; and Barbara Miller-Williams, the County Legislator.
In a general election, Cheektowaga will be equally pivotal. In a county that is 2-to-1 Democrat, any Republican seeking a countywide office needs to make big inroads in the traditionally Democrat bastions of Cheektowaga, Tonawanda, and Amherst.
County Clerk Chris Jacobs is said to be considering a run for County Executive. Jacobs is a popular and respected figure in the local business and political communities.