Campaign financials for the Buffalo Council and Erie County Legislature; Comptroller’s audit of the Williamsville Central School District

Primary Day in Buffalo and Erie County offers some interesting contests.  The Common Council primaries might produce a shift in control of that legislative body.  The County Legislature primaries are in just one district; they are simply a power struggle between the Republicans and Conservatives.

Subject to Board of Elections or court actions, there could be six primaries for the Council seats in June.  Only the Delaware District (Councilmember Joel Feroleto); the Niagara District (Councilmember David Rivera); and the South District (Councilmember Christopher Scanlon) have no primaries and no Republican candidates, meaning that those three members are effectively re-elected.

All of the Council primaries are in the Democratic Party.

The other six Council contests could upend the Council.  President Darius Pridgen, who has represented the Ellicott District, is retiring so there will be new leadership.  Depending on their inclination to form a coalition, if a new majority develops it could also impact the administration’s work.  The Council in recent years has been very cooperative with Mayor Byron Brown.

Efforts to change Council membership failed in 2019, in large part because several candidates had problems navigating Election Law requirements for getting on the ballot.  That seems unlikely to re-occur in 2023.

Local races like the Council seats usually demand a great deal of organizational skills plus a candidate who is willing to pound the pavement themselves and can recruit a large number of supporters who will add to the effort.  How much money a committee has is a little less important than in a congressional or state legislative race, but cash in a campaign’s treasury is some indicator of how ready the candidate and his or her team are for the election push.

The most recent financial reports filed with the state Board of Elections were submitted in mid-January.  For primary contestants their next reports are due on May 26.  Candidates new to the process would not have filed reports in January, so we must wait until next month to see how they are doing.  Here is a summary of campaign financials for those who filed in January, which were with one exception on time; as well as the numbers in the three districts where there are no contests.  All of the candidates are Democrats:

Delaware District

Joel Feroleto (incumbent) $70,259

Ellicott District

Matt Dearing – no report filed

Emin Eddie Egriu – no report filed

Leah Halton-Pope – no report filed

Cedric Holloway – no report filed

Fillmore District

Sam Herbert – no report filed

Mitch Nowakowski (incumbent) $40,509

Lovejoy District

Bryan Bollman (incumbent) $10,813

Mohammed Uddin – no report filed

Masten District

Zeneta Everhart – no report filed

Murray Holman – no report filed

India Walton – Friends of India Walton filed their July 2022 report on November 2, 2022, showing $4,786.  The Committee failed to filed the required report in January 2023.

Niagara District

David Rivera (incumbent) negative $509

North District

Joe Golombek (incumbent) $50,913

Eve Shippens $7,450

Lisa Thagard – no report filed

South District

Christopher Scanlon (incumbent) $72,102

University District

Rasheed Wyatt (incumbent) $16,346

Kathryn Franco $517

Feroleto, Nowakowski, Golombek, and Scanlan’s numbers are impressive, particularly for Feroleto and Scanlan who don’t have upcoming primaries.  One might speculate that they are thinking about a run for another office that might require a large campaign chest.

Also noteworthy are the petitions filings by Republicans for two Council seats, a pretty rare development.  David McElroy has filed in the Lovejoy District and Matthew Powenski is a candidate in the North District.  Neither has campaign filings up yet.

There will only be one district with a primary for a seat on the Erie County Legislature, the 10th District.  There will be Republican and Conservative primaries including appointed incumbent James Malczewski and challenger Lindsay Lorigo.  In January Malczewski had $488 in the bank.  Lorigo had not set up her committee as yet.  Look for heavy spending in this election.

The campaign treasuries of legislators or candidates in other districts include:

1st District

Howard Johnson (D, incumbent) $22,792

2nd District

April McCants-Baskin (D, incumbent) $60,232

3rd District

Michael Kooshoian (D, recently appointed incumbent) $50

Stephan Monpremier (R) – no report filed

4th District

John Bargnesi (D, incumbent) $522

Scott Marciszewski – no report filed

5th District

Jeanne Vinal (D, incumbent) $9,012

Richard Wilkinson (R) – no report filed

6th District

Christopher Greene (R, incumbent) $9,687

Ronald Shubert (D) – no report filed

7th District

Timothy Meyers (D, incumbent) – January report filed as “no activity”

Michael Zachowicz (R) – no report filed

8th District

Frank Todaro (R, incumbent) $15,203

9th District

John Gilmour (D, incumbent) $1,278

James Butera (R) – no report filed

11th District

John Mills (R, incumbent) $2,524

The primary election is on June 27th, just nine weeks away.  At this point it’s not a marathon, it’s a sprint to the finish line.

Williamsville School District finances

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli last week released an audit of the Williamsville Central School District’s finances for the period July 2018 through July 2022.  Williamsville is second only to Buffalo in student enrollment in Erie County.   

Here are the Key Findings of the audit:

The Board and District officials did not properly manage the District’s fund balance and reserves. As a result, the District levied more taxes than needed to fund operations. The Board and District officials:

Consistently overestimated general fund appropriations from 2018-19 through 2021- 22 by a total of $47 million and appropriated $22 million of fund balance that was not needed or used.

Adopted annual budgets during the same period that gave the impression that the District would have operating deficits totaling $38 million when it actually had operating surpluses totaling $40 million, for a difference totaling $78 million.

Were not fully transparent with the public regarding the funding and replenishment of all reserves.

District officials generally disagreed with our findings but indicated that they planned to initiate corrective action.

The Comptroller’s Office notes that their Office “issued an audit report in December 2016 (Williamsville Central School District – Financial Management (2016M-274)) that identified similar financial deficiencies.”

The full audit, including the District’s detailed response, can be found here.

Ken Kruly writes about politics and other stuff at

The post Campaign financials for the Buffalo Council and Erie County Legislature; Comptroller’s audit of the Williamsville Central School District appeared first on Buffalo Rising.

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