Politics as the family business

Even the most casual of political observers may note it:  there are many folks in Western New York for which politics is the family business.

It transcends parties. It covers all levels of government. There have been many folks in office in recent days whose father or mother or some other relative held office before them.

It is really not so unusual for children to follow their relatives into the family business.  It happens often in law offices and doctors’ offices.  Businesses deal with succession planning that frequently passes the work and ownership down to the next generation and beyond.  In politics, however, it all plays out in public.

The following is just a partial listing of some family ties in Western New York gathered with the assistance of my friend, Ray Gallagher.  I’m sure readers can come up with others.

Feel free to email me with those I have missed or incorrectly identified and I will edit the post.  The list is presented in no particular order.  Here goes:

  • Mike, John, and Jim Dillon.  They were all judges.  Mike was also Erie County District Attorney.  Mike’s son Kevin was also DA and a judge. Kevin’s son-in-law, Conor Flynn, is an Orchard Park Councilmember
  • Edward, Edward II, and Edward III of the Rath family, along with Edward II’s wife, former Erie County Legislator and State Senator Mary Lou Rath.  The first Edward was Erie County Clerk and then the first County Executive.  Edward II was a Judge.  Edward III served as an Erie County Legislator and State Senator
  • Chester Gorski was a Congressman and President of the Buffalo City Council.  His son Gerald was a Supreme Court Justice, while Chet’s second son, Dennis, was a County Legislator, Assemblyman, and County Executive
  • The Cosgrove family include Judges Art and Nelson as well as DA Edward. Current Orchard Park Village Justice James Cosgrove is the son of Edward.  DA John Flynn is Ed Cosgrove’s nephew
  • Frank Sedita was a Buffalo City Court Judge and then Mayor of Buffalo.  His son, Frank Jr., was also a judge.  Frank Jr.’s son, Frank III, was DA and is now a Judge.  Frank Sedita Sr.’s brother Joseph was also a Supreme Court Justice
  • In the Keane family Richard was a County Legislature Chairman and later an Assemblyman.  His late brother Jim was a Buffalo Councilman.  Dick’s son Kevin is a Buffalo City Court Judge
  • The Higgins family has been represented by Councilman Dan and his son is Brian, who has served as a member of the Buffalo Common Council, the State Assembly, and Congress
  • State Senator Bert Hoak was a State Senator.  His son, Pat, was a Hamburg Supervisor and County Legislator.  Pat’s children include Randy, current Hamburg Supervisor, and Karen, a member of the Hamburg Town Board
  • The late Assemblyman Steve Greco was the father of County Legislator and Lancaster Supervisor Lucien
  • The late Lancaster Councilman Art Metz was the father of Lancaster Town Clerk and Supervisor Johanna Coleman, who recently passed
  • The late Assemblyman Julius Volker was the father of Assemblyman and later Senator Dale Volker
  • The late Stanley Keysa, Supervisor of Lancaster, was later succeeded by his son Stan, who has also passed away
  • Matt Murphy was a member of the State Assembly from Niagara County. His son Matthew Jr. was Niagara County DA and later a County Court Judge. Assemblyman Murphy’s daughter-in-law, Mary Travers Murphy, served as Orchard Park Supervisor
  • Former Niagara County DA and current County Judge Caroline Wojtazek is the sister-in-law of former County Legislator and current Supreme Court Justice Paul Wojtazek. They are both related to Niagara Falls Judge Cathy Gariano Wojtazek
  • The late Erie County Legislator Morley Townsend was the father-in-law of Justice Sharon Townsend
  • Former Erie County Legislator Fred Pordum was the brother of the late Fran Pordum, who served as a County Legislator, Assemblyman, and Supervisor in the Town of Evans
  • Justice Catherine-Nugent Panepinto and former State Senator Marc Panepinto.
  • Former Town of Tonawanda Councilman and current County Legislator John Bargnesi is the brother of Erie County Judge James Bargnesi
  • Former Buffalo Councilman Gus Franczyk was the uncle of former Judge Tim Franczyk and former Buffalo Councilman David Franczyk
  • Former Congressman Jack Tauriello was the uncle of former Senator Joe Tauriello.
  • Henry Nowak served as Erie County Comptroller and Congressman.  His son. Henry Jr. was a Buffalo City Court Judge and is now a Supreme Court Justice
  • One-term Erie County Legislator Kevin Brinkworth is the uncle of Judge Kelly Brinkworth
  • Former Hamburg Councilman and Highway Superintendent Tom Best is the father of former Hamburg Councilman Tom. Jr.
  • Former Cheektowaga Councilman and Supervisor Frank Swiatek is the father of former Cheektowaga Councilman Jeff Swiatek
  • Former Cheektowaga Councilman and Town Clerk Bill Rogowski is the father of former Cheektowaga Councilman Jim Rogowski
  • The late Supervisor of the Town of Cheektowaga, Ben Holtz, was the father of former Town Clerk and Supervisor Mary Holtz
  • Former County Legislator and Assemblyman Richard Anderson is the father of former Amherst Town Clerk Jay Anderson
  • Former Amherst Town Councilmember Penny Zeplowitz is the mother of former Amherst Town Clerk Jeffrey Zeplowitz
  • Retired Justice Sal Martoche is the father of Justice Amy Martoche.
  • Former Hamburg Supervisor and Congressman Jack Quinn is the father of former Assemblyman Jack Jr.
  • Former County Legislator and Amherst Supervisor Dan Ward is the brother of Justice Dennis Ward. Justice Ward’s wife Michelle is a former Erie County Legislator
  • The late Surrogate Thomas O’Donnell was the father of Justice John Jr.
  • Judge Pat Carney is the brother-in-law of Judge Mary Carney
  • Former Hamburg Highway Superintendent Jim Connolly is the father of Hamburg Councilman Shawn
  • Former Brant Town Justice Kirk Ritz is the father of former Brant Justice Debra Ritz
  • The late Assemblyman Vince Graber is the brother of former West Seneca Councilmen Mike and the father of former Councilman Vince, Jr.
  • The late West Seneca Councilman Chris Walsh and his daughter, former West Seneca Supervisor Sheila Meegan
  • Judge Douglas Trost was the father of former Erie County Legislator Tim Trost
  • Former Cheektowaga Supervisor Ken Meyers is the father of current Erie County Legislature Majority Leader Tim Meyers
  • Retiring Buffalo Councilman Darius Pridgen is the father-in-law of Buffalo Chief Judge JaHarr Pridgen
  • Buffalo Councilman David Rivera is the father of Assemblyman Jonathan Rivera
  • The late Buffalo Councilman and Assemblyman Bill Hoyt was the father of former Assemblyman Sam
  • Judge Victor Manz was the father of former County Legislator and Judge David Manz
  • Former Assemblywoman Carol Siwek is the mother of Justice Donna Siwek
  • The late former Buffalo Councilman Gerry Whalen is the father of Justice Gerry Whalen
  • Former Amherst Highway Superintendent Pat Lucey is the father of current Amherst Highway Superintendent Pat Lucey
  • Former West Seneca Councilman Bernie Lillis was the late husband of former West Seneca Councilmember and Supervisor Joan Lillis
  • Former Cheektowaga Councilman and Highway Superintendent Don Wegner is the father of current Cheektowaga Superintendent Mark Wegner
  • Former Amherst Supervisor Lynn Millane and son-in-law former County Legislator Brian Rusk
  • Former Lackawanna Councilman Robert Surdyke and son Kevin, also a Councilman in Lackawanna
  • Former Evans Supervisor Bob Catalano and son Bob, also a former Evans Supervisor
  • The late Supreme Court Justice Frederick Marshall and his son, the late Frederick Marshall, also a Supreme Court Justice
  • Cousins Al Coppola, a former Buffalo Councilman, and Marc Coppola, a former Councilman and State Senator
  • Delaware District Councilmember Joel Feroleto is the son of Justice Paula Feroleto and the cousin of the late Councilmember Mike LoCurto
  • Eden Justice Mike Cooper, brother of former Evans Town Justice Tim Cooper, and Tim’s daughter Molly, Evans Town Justice

Any errors in titles or oversights to this list are completely unintentional.  Please email corrections or additions to kenk@politicsandstuff.com.

Twitter @kenkruly