​Amherst Democratic Committee holds rally for local candidates

Local Democrats urge voters to vote blue on Tuesday


The Amherst Democratic Committee held a “Get Out the Vote” rally on Sunday where local Democratic leaders spoke to a crowd of energetic supporters on the importance of voting in the upcoming local elections.

State Senator Tim Kennedy was one of several local Democratic leaders who spoke, including the three Democratic candidates: Sheriff candidate Bernie Tolbert, Comptroller candidate Vanessa Glushefski and County Clerk candidate Steve Cichon.

“We will not allow the Republicans to stand in the way of progress here in Buffalo, Western New York and in New York State,” Kennedy said in his endorsement of the candidates.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul offered a resounding endorsement for the candidates, citing their “integrity” and “good morals.” She also drew a comparison with the Republican candidates, Tim Howard, Stefan Mychajliw and Guy Marlette.

“[The Democratic candidates] are individuals with accomplishment, integrity and good morals,” Hochul said. “And what a contrast we have this year against people who are down in the ditch and throwing everything at our guys and our women.”

Incumbent Sheriff Tim Howard has been the subject of controversy since he spoke in uniform at a “Spirit of America” rally in March. While the rally was billed as a “non-partisan” gathering to support President Trump, the participants waived Confederate and Nazi flags. Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner called on Howard to resign following Howard’s appearance at this event.

Tolbert described Howard’s 12-year tenure as Sheriff as “incompetent” and expressed concerns about Howard’s appearance.

“We’ve got a sheriff who thinks that appearing at a rally where there’s Nazi symbolism, where there is a Confederate flag, where there’s white supremacists—he thinks that’s okay,” Tolbert said. “Half of your constituents are going to be hurt, insulted and offended that you did that. We need a sheriff who cares about the entire community, who cares about everyone.”

Tolbert is a former FBI special agent and served as senior vice president of security for the National Basketball Association. He aims to improve the management of the Erie County Holding Center, which he feels is an “embarrassment” and a “drain” on taxpayers. His other platforms include reducing street violence and addressing the heroin and opioid epidemics.

Glushefski is running against incumbent Mychajliw for County Comptroller. Comptrollers serve as the chief financial officer for the county and non-partisan watchdogs over county financial dealings.

Glushefski, a Certified Public Accountant, believes her financial background makes her a stronger candidate than her opponent, a former journalist. If elected, Glushefski would be the first CPA elected Comptroller.

“I know that qualifications matter,” Glushefski said. “If you don’t have a qualified person at the helm who is giving us non-partisan financial information that we need to make good decisions, then we’re all in a lot of trouble.”

Not only does the public rely on that financial information, but the county legislature relies on that information too, Glushefski explained.

“If we are going to be a prosperous Erie County, we need to make sure we have

someone in there who is going to do the job right and do the job with integrity,” Glushefski said.

Steve Cichon is running for county clerk against Assemblyman Michael Kearns, a Democrat running on the Republican line. County Clerks are in charge of managing public records.

Cichon believes Western New York can “do better” by electing Democratic candidates.

“Can’t we do better than a sheriff who thinks basic human rights is some crazy, liberal idea? Can’t we do better than a comptroller—our fiscal watchdog—who makes up numbers?” Cichon asked. “If you think we can do better, then vote [the Democratic line] on Tuesday.”

Erie County Legislator Patrick Burke also emphasized the importance of voting, especially for students. He wants students to know the power they have.

“Their votes could change the dynamics of the election. And we are seeing now first-hand how much voting matters,” Burke said. “For national election [students] didn’t show up when we needed them to and what’s happened is literally a devastating prospect for the country. But they can change that.”

Maddy Fowler is a news editor and can be reached at maddy.fowler@ubspectrum.com