An update on the Erie County Sheriff’s race

With just over one week to go before primary day things are really heating up in the Republican Party race for Erie County sheriff.

The John Garcia campaign has had some hard-hitting attacks recently, including a shot at County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw for releasing a report criticizing Garcia about a contract with a company he is associated with that provides security services for the county. (The work went through standard county purchasing procedures and was properly approved.  Garcia has said he will remove himself from the county business relationship if he is elected sheriff).  Mychajliw is a contributor to Garcia’s opponent, Karen Healy-Case.

Yesterday Garcia held a press conference in front of the Sheriff’s Office.  He revealed information gathered through a Freedom of Information Law request regarding the role of Healy-Case in a matter concerning attorney Anne Adams’ DWI arrest in 2008.  That matter indirectly resulted in Supreme Court Justice Joseph Makowski leaving the bench some time later.  Here is an excerpt from the Garcia press statement:

On September 2, 2008, at approximately 19:43, Anne Adams was arrested for aggravated DWI with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level nearly two and a half times the legal limit. After the arrest, Ms. Adams conspired with Karen Healy-Case as to what her next steps should be to avoid imminent prosecution. In an affidavit, Karen Healy-Case, who was not present at the time of the arrest, objected to the findings of the law enforcement officer who made the initial stop of Ms. Adams and asked her to perform the roadside sobriety tests. Karen Healy-Case felt in her “experience” that there was no way Ms. Adams could have provided a chemical breathalyzer BAC of .19%, nearly 250% over the legal limit. Karen Healy-Case’s assessment was based on an incoming phone call from Ms. Adams less than approximately two hours from the initial stop and just an hour before a blood sample was taken at Mercy Hospital.

The Healy-Case campaign has been playing up her endorsements by Michael Caputo; a Grand Island town board member; the entire Eden town board; former Assemblyman Ray Walter; the Republican and Conservative Parties members of the Erie County Legislature – all four of them; and Healy-Case’s mother (in a TV commercial). The influence of those individuals on Republican voters could be out-weighed by Garcia’s endorsements by Sheriff Tim Howard; Senator (and former Sheriff) Pat Gallivan; the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association; and a prominent gun organization.  And is Congressman Chris Jacobs also involved?  A member of his staff, Mitch Martin, is acting as the media contact for the Garcia campaign.

Prior to recent developments there has been some interesting behind the scenes political maneuvering. Garcia substantially out-raised Healey-Case in the January BOE campaign filings, which apparently made it more difficult for Republicans to coalesce their support around her. The Conservative Party stepped in. Instead of running a placeholder attorney as their candidate for sheriff, waiting for Republicans to sort things out as they have done in other elections, the Conservatives endorsed Healey-Case before she had the Republican endorsement locked up. The strategy worked with the Republicans for the endorsement but it potentially leaves the Conservatives in an awkward position should Garcia defeat Healy-Case in the Republican primary.

Combine all the above noted activities with Garcia’s well-funded effort and you have the makings of an upset in the Republican primary for sheriff.  If that happens there could be some post-primary consequences for both the Republicans and the Conservatives.  This is, as they say on the networks, a developing story.  Stay tuned.

Early voting

Early voting starts on Saturday, June 12.  Here is information about early voting locations in Erie County:

Follow me on Twitter @kenkruly

The Trumplification of local politics

Every day that goes by shows how totally ingrained Donald Trump is with all things Republican.  The party has morphed into a policy-free collection of cult followers.  That process is filtering down to local campaigns.

It has long been said that there is not a Democratic or a Republican way to plow a street or to pick up the trash.  Maybe that won’t be the same anymore as Trumpkins take their fearless leader’s style of politics and government down to the local level.

Sheriff

Erie County Republican voters will choose among two candidates in the party’s June 22nd primary election for sheriff, Karen Healy-Case and John Garcia.  Healey-Case is the party headquarters endorsed candidate.

Healy-Case has spent more than $45,000 thus far on TV ads that are mostly or exclusively on Fox, One America News, and Newsmax – all totally Trump-oriented.  Considering that polls show about seventy percent or more of Republicans are committed to Trump, such advertising makes sense from a strategic point of view.  Unless, of course, your candidate wins the party primary and needs to explain things to a much larger and more diverse audience over the next four months.

In a press release from Erie County Republican Headquarters last week Healy-Case announced that Michael Caputo is supporting her.  The six paragraph release mentions Donald Trump ten times just in case anyone didn’t know about Caputo’s relationship with Trump.  It said that Healy-Case is a “proud conservative Republican,” which is something she wasn’t when she ran for the Lancaster Town Board as a Democrat or asked to be considered for the Democratic nomination for sheriff several years ago.

The release goes on to suggest that a vote for Healy-Case’s Republican opponent, John Garcia, will split the ballot in November with different candidates on the Republican and Conservatives lines.”  That makes me wonder, what will the Conservatives do about Healy-Case if Garcia wins the Republican primary?  That is beginning to look like a distinct possibility.

On her campaign website Healy-Case states that as Erie County’s top law enforcement officer, I will stand up to stop the unjust, unconstitutional laws passed by Albany politicians that threaten our liberty – like New York’s SAFE Act…

“Like you, I am fed up with watching the radical Left attack our Constitution, the rule of law, and our courageous law enforcement officers. If we are going to end the chaos and keep Erie County citizens safe, we cannot let the “defund the police” mob take over our Sheriff’s Office.”

Which begs the question:  what about the chaos of the Trump mob that attacked the United States Capitol on January 6th, resulting in several deaths and dozens of injuries to police officers who defended members of Congress and the Vice President as they were fulfilling their constitutional duties?

Pledging not to enforce laws she disagrees with sounds great to the Trumpkins in the audience.  The thing is, however, a public officer doesn’t get to choose that way.  To do so would be a violation of the oath of office that all public officers in New York State must swear to, including the sheriff.

Hamburg supervisor

Hamburg voters are being treated to quite a spectacle this election year.  The usual back and forth of Democratic and Republican candidates for town office will be trumped by the Trumplican candidate for town supervisor, Stefan Mychajliw, who spends a great deal of his time promoting Trump-like positions on public issues unrelated either to his current job of county comptroller or to the office he is now seeking. 

The lines are blurred in the comptroller’s office as he uses the county’s official website for such things as an attack on John Garcia’s business and the promotion of his Hamburg politics.

Supervisor is the fourth political position Mychajliw has sought in the past four years, during which he ran for re-election as comptroller, discussed a race for county executive in 2019, ran his ill-fated congressional campaign in 2020, and then moved on to the Hamburg race.

Mychajliw’s website rails against “defunding the police,” something that no town Democratic candidates are discussing.  He also promises to never raise town taxes; the town board actually cut the town tax levy for 2021 even while dealing with the loss of revenues due to the pandemic.  He must have missed that story while he followed Mark Poloncarz around. 

Channel 7 reporter Charlie Specht reported earlier this year how little time Mychajliw had been spending in the Rath Building.  You have to wonder if he realizes that the position of supervisor in a town as large as Hamburg is often a 24/7 job that doesn’t leave a lot of time for politicking.

Amherst town justice

Amherst voters will select a town justice candidate on primary day.  The incumbent, who is running for re-election, is Kara Buscaglia.  She has the Democratic endorsement and is being challenged in the Republican, Conservative and Working Families parties’ primaries by former radio talk show host Kathy Weppner.

As her campaign signs note, Buscaglia is an attorney, which most folks would expect to be the case for a judge, particularly in a large town like Amherst.  Weppner’s CV says she attended St. Bonaventure University and the University at Buffalo but no degree is indicated.  In a town with hundreds of residents who are attorneys, the Republican Party chose a candidate for judge who does not have a law degree.

A study of the state judicial system included on Weppner’s website recommends that “all justices should have earned, at a minimum, a two year undergraduate degree from an accredited college… we believe that those who have successfully earned a college degree are likely to possess the diligence and literacy skills necessary to master the training program which incoming justices must successfully complete….”

The state’s Commission on Judicial Conduct has since 1978 admonished 630 town and village justices in the state with punishments including public censure, public admonition, resignations and removals from office.  Many of those justices have been non-attorneys.

Weppner on her website says that one of her rationales for running for the justice position is that “[v}oting is one of the very few ways we have of directly participating in our government. We must allow this to happen. We must give the people a choice. I am a Republican with Conservative values. My opponent is a Democrat. There is a difference.”

Actually, when it comes to justice there is not supposed to be a difference.  Justice must follow the law and act accordingly without regard to parties or politics.

One more thing.  As a candidate in June 22nd primaries Weppner was required by the state Election Law to file a financial report with the BOE on May 21.  She has not done so.

On to the elections

While Healy-Case, Mychajliw and Weppner’s Trump-like manner of operation and public stances are already out there for public review, there are undoubtedly other local Trumplicans already campaigning or planning to do so as disciples of Donald Trump.  The general public should know if they are voting for a sheriff, supervisor, justice, highway superintendent or a councilmember who is interested in public service or is just someone running to spread the gospel according to Trump.

Money in Politics

Investigative Post this week has an article about Mayor Byron Brown’s political fundraising.  You can also connect to a podcast where Geoff Kelly and I discuss the campaign for mayor and sheriff.  Here is a  link:  https://www.investigativepost.org/

Follow me on Twitter @kenkruly