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Zellner to stay in County Legislature job full time

ZELLNERJeremy J. Zellner takes the stage after being elected chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party during a meeting at Hearthstone Manor in Depew on Saturday. (Derek Gee / Buffalo News)

Jeremy Zellner expects he'll be working a lot of nights and weekends.

Zellner, elected chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party on Saturday, said he's still working out the details of how he'll juggle his new responsibilities along with his county job as chief of staff for the Legislature Democrats.

"Right now, we're headed toward budget season, and it's going to be really busy at the Legislature," Zellner said. "So I don't plan on making any moves any time soon. That would be leaving them shorthanded."

Zellner, who has worked for the Legislature since January, said he expects to set a regular lunch hour in which he can stop at Democratic headquarters. He expects to handle much of the party work on nights and weekends.

Both jobs will enter their busiest seasons during the next two months as general election campaigns roll forward and the Legislature begins examining the 2013 county budget proposal.

"It's a big job to be the chairman," Zellner said. "It's a big job to be the chief of staff."

Legislature Chairwoman Betty Jean Grant, who appointed Zellner as chief of staff in January, said she plans to sit down with him to discuss whether the new job will impact his current role on the Legislature staff, but said she didn’t anticipate any problems.

As chief of staff, Zellner serves as a liaison to County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz for the Legislature Democrats, among other duties that include helping to prepare the Legislature’s agenda. Legislature Clerk Robert Graber manages the Democratic staff in the Legislature on a day-to-day basis, Grant said.

“As chief of staff, he’s got a great team there,” Grant said. “With Bob Graber, the clerk, managing the staff on a day-to-day basis, I think he can do both jobs well.”

Zellner said he has talked to legislators only generally about the two roles and doesn't know whether he will stay in the county job full-time in the future. But he said he's used to working 80-hour weeks during campaign season when he worked as executive director of the Erie County Democratic Committee.

He noted that several other party chairman in the state also hold public jobs, including Rep. Joseph Crowley, who is chairman of the Queens Democratic Committee.

Zellner was appointed chief of staff by Legislature Chairwoman Betty Jean Grant in January at a salary of $79,577. He replaced John C. Davis, who had been chief of staff under former Legislature Chairwoman Barbara Miller-Williams.

Related: Max attorney to challenge election of Democratic chairman

-- Denise Jewell Gee

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Erie County Legislature | Jeremy Zellner
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