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Who Will Control the Next County Comptroller?

According to recent press accounts and the undertow of insider talk, the process set up at Erie County Democratic Headquarters to vet and select a Democratic appointee for Erie County comptroller, or a list of finalist candidates to submit to the Erie County Legislature, has raised concerns over transparency and the appearance of a predetermined bias toward a favored candidate. In fairness to the Democratic Party chairman, the 10 volunteer members of the screening committee, and the eight candidates under consideration, it is important to understand how sensitive these situations can be.

The County Legislature is the legal appointing authority and will take into consideration the recommendation of the Democratic Party chairman, but also has a broader responsibility to appoint a comptroller who will be both qualified and capable of managing an office with serious constitutional and fiduciary responsibilities. In the very near future, the Legislature will make its own determination and appoint a Democrat to this position.

Most of us would agree that such a candidate should possess both academic and managerial qualifications, as well as a disposition that supports an independence from narrow political alliances and agendas. Any Democrat who hopes to hold this position must be prepared mentally, organizationally, and financially not only for the challenges of campaigning but also for the professional challenge of overseeing an annual budget of $1.2 billion dollars. As important, however, is the ability of a candidate to bring credibility and a “no strings attached” independence to the office, just as Mark Poloncarz did so professionally during his tenure.

In my own case, as a candidate for this office—and I am also seeking the appointment of the County Legislature—I believe that this quest is most serious. To that end, I feel it is important to underscore my commitment to my fellow Democrats, members of the Legislature, and the taxpayers of our county by announcing, next week, my candidacy for election in November.

This announcement of my candidacy is not intended to preempt the deliberations of the Democratic Party or the legislators, but prompted by my belief that our citizens deserve to be involved in this process and that we need to fill this important position quickly.

Public office seekers and office holders must worker harder to restore public confidence in government. Through this public announcement of my intent to be true to these beliefs, I feel that I can further this discourse.

I invite all my fellow citizens to contact their County Legislators to offer their views.

> George Hasiotis, Buffalo

Candidate for Erie County Comptroller

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