Cheektowaga Town Clerk Alice Magierski has a plan to address vacant homes, if she is elected Town Supervisor. Magierski is a longtime figure in town politics — friendly and familiar to Cheektowaga voters, who tend to be older and more socially conservative. In a campaign video released on Facebook, Magierski pledges to strictly enforce building codes to pursue the owners of blighted properties.
The Clerk has the backing of a powerful contingent of the Democrat party. Retiring Supervisor Mary Holtz publicly endorsed Magierski before she even announced her candidacy. Magierski also has the backing of Frank Max, the influential former party chairman and decades long activist whose involvement in town politics has helped turn the county backwater into Western New York’s central hub for transportation, shopping, and industry.
Magierski faces the first term Councilwoman Diane Benczkowski in the party primary contest. Benczkowski has emphasized her outsider pro-business perspective, while Magierski emphasized her years of experience as Town Clerk, Tax Receiver, and with the school board.
Benczkowski has the Democrat and Conservative Party endorsements and is well networked in the business community. She is popular in the local real estate industry and is known for rocking the proverbial boat at town hall. The Councilwoman is a close ally of County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Erie County Democrat Party Chairman Jeremy Zellner.
Cheektowaga has been a political battlefield for two long entrenched factions of the party: the headquarters faction, controlled by an unwieldy patronage largess with Zellner sitting as titular head; and the opposition faction led by the revered political operative G. Steven Pigeon, who is closely aligned with Max.
“Would we make a beat cop the Chief of Police or a first year teacher a Superintendent of Schools,” Magierski suggested in a conversation earlier this summer. “Experience matters.”
The primary contest is widely considered a toss up and both factions are expected to wage aggressive campaigns.