Katrinna Martin-Bordeaux, emerging as the leading opposition contender for Erie County Democratic Party Chairman, is prepared to endorse the respected private practice attorney Peter A. Reese for Election Commissioner of the Erie County Board of Elections, upon defeating the embattled young Chairman Jeremy Zellner.
In recent years Zellner has been the source of controversy — particularly related to his handling of judicial nominations, lackluster party endorsements, and a heavy handed management style rooted in bile, and inclined to pursue retribution for perceived slights.
“Katrinna is an unstoppable force for election reform, improving ballot access, ending gerrymandering, voter rights, and decentralizing control of our democracy,” says one source familiar with her thinking. “All we have to do is educate the people.”
Young Black Democrats of Western New York, the first organization of its type in the nation, was founded by Martin-Bordeaux in 2013. The organization has made impressive strides in terms of organizing an opposition to headquarters’ Democrats who have become “too accustom to corruption, pettiness, and self dealing.”
Her supporters are quick to note that, should Martin-Bordeaux defeat Zellner, that rank and file members of the Democratic Party should not fear the loss of jobs or ballot opportunities.
“There will be some changes at the top, but we need to change the culture and treat people like professionals,” a supporter says. “This isn’t about jobs. It’s about saving this city.”
“It’s not going to be a culture of fear and intimidation anymore. Katrinna is going to instill a culture of living up to the highest ideals of our democracy — a stark departure from the self-dealing, pettiness, and infighting that you see so much of at party headquarters,” the same supporter argues.
It’s widely understood that Martin-Bordeaux will work to legitimize judicial elections, which have been particularly problematic and opaque endorsement and nomination processes. Two years ago, Zellner was accused of extorting judicial candidates by demanding campaign contributions under suspect premise.
Upon election, Martin-Bordeaux is preparing to present a “package of reforms” that she will lobby for in Albany. Those reforms would require legislation, and could include reducing signature requirements for nominating petitions for public office; and introducing a system of non-partisan redistricting of legislative apportionments.