Frank Max, the longtime former Chairman of the Cheektowaga Democrats and the founder of Western New York Progressive Democrats, is enjoying his retirement from the Town of Cheektowaga and prefers some distance from the fray of county politics.
That’s why he has declined being endorsed by Katrinna Martin-Bordeaux, a Democrat Party official who is emerging as the leading opposition contender to the embattled Chairman Jeremy Zellner, as a future Deputy Elections Commissioner.
Martin-Bordeaux intends to wage a campaign for the Chairmanship at the party’s reorganization meeting later this year, and seems to have the support of various opposition factions of the party who have been largely alienated and maligned by old guard bossism at party headquarters.
Three contenders have emerged for the influential post of Deputy Election Commissioner: Dan Ward, the former Amherst Supervisor; Shelia Meegan, the West Seneca Supervisor; and Betty Jean Grant, the county legislator.
Ward is an attorney in private practice and has been a longstanding fixture in local politics. He served three years in the Erie County Legislature (1975-78) and two years on the Amherst Town Board (1987-89), before serving as Town Supervisor (1989-93), and again as Councilman (1997-2000). In each of those capacities, he never missed an official meeting.
Ward has always been inclined to seek out leadership roles. In 1977 he was the youngest Majority Leader in the County Legislature’s history, and the third Chairman of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.
His record of accomplishments include support for arts and cultural organizations while on the legislature, the adoption of Town ethics laws, and a slew of quality of life ordinances and zoning laws designed to protect neighborhoods. As Supervisor he drafted and issued the Town’s first policy on sexual harassment.
Ward also served as the Assistant Regional Director of the Empire State Development Corporation before leaving the agency in 2011. In addition to his law practice, Ward is a member of the Diocesan Justice and Peace Committee.
West Seneca Town Supervisor Sheila Meegan was born raised in the Town and comes from a military family. Her husband of three-plus decades, Mike, served in Afghanistan; and her father and father-in-law served in the Korean War and World War II.Before holding public office, Meegan worked in the insurance industry for more than twenty years. In 2007, she was elected to the Town Council before becoming Town Supervisor in 2012.
Meegan established a Veterans Memorial Park with much community support; and opened the Emergency Operations Center at Mill Road School, with the West Seneca School Board. The CodeRed Emergency Alert System was the result of Meegan teaming up with Orchard Park officials. She also lists the renovations made to the police department and town hall, upgrades at the town’s senior center, and securing $650,000 in FEMA reimbursements following the November Storm, among her many accomplishments.
County Legislator Betty Jean Grant is a deeply respected political figure, trusted and known for her integrity. She is a leading contender for the position of Deputy Election Commissioner. Grant has waged a series of impressive primary bids for State Senate, despite being overspent and headquarters’ officials working behind her back to undermine those campaigns.
In recent months, Zellner has removed Grant from the board of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency. It’s rumored that the appointment was taken away because of Grant’s outspoken activism — in recent years demanding that that the East Side of Buffalo be included in the Cuomo Administration’s Buffalo Billion program at a time when Mayor Bryon Brown has largely stood down on the issue.
Grant is seen as the Black community’s most honest and trusted elected official since the days of Arthur O. Eve. Grant has not yet announced whether she will challenge incumbent State Senator Tim Kennedy this year.
A source close to Martin-Bordeaux says that she favors the widely respected private practice attorney, Peter A. Reese, as the next Election Commissioner of the Erie County Board of Elections. Reese is an expert election law attorney with an engineering degree from the University at Buffalo.
Reese’s activism against animal abuse led to the passage of the state’s No-Kill law.