Howard Johnson is a candidate for County Legislature in District 1 — the seat that former City Comptroller Barbara Miller-Williams vacated upon her appointment by Mayor Byron Brown to become City Comptroller.
Sources say that several years ago Johnson was shot at Pandora’s Sports Bar, a tavern on Fillmore Avenue with a reputation for a good fish fry by day, and a young hard-partying crowd by night. The venue has been the site of multiple shootings over many years, and homicides frequent the sidewalk in front of the establishment.
The circumstances surrounding Johnson being shot have remained unclear, and the candidate has not commented on how often he frequents the establishment.
Johnson’s critics have been calling on him to discuss the incident publicly and to take questions at a press conference on the subject.
Johnson was endorsed by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. Many local operatives interpret the move as part of a broader effort by Poloncarz and Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner to undermine Mayor Brown’s political organization.
Johnson is the ‘political enforcer’ of Arthur Eve, Jr., the Deputy Commissioner of the Erie County Board of Elections, a Zellner operative. Zellner orchestrated Johnson’s appointment to the vacancy a few weeks ago.
Miller-Williams is a close Brown ally and was seen as an independent voice on the County Legislature. The departure of former City Comptroller Mark Schroeder for a position with the Department of Motor Vehicles was seen as a blow to the Zellner-Poloncarz machine.
In recent months the two men have been doing all they can to ensure that headquarters Democrats — rather than opposition Democrats — retake control of the District 1 seat.