Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

Legislature to vote on Hicks for NFTA seat

By Denise Jewell Gee

Democrats in the Erie County Legislature plan to recommend a surgeon and professor to serve as a Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority commissioner.

Legislature Chairwoman Betty Jean Grant, a Buffalo Democrat, will seek a vote to recommend Dr. Wesley L. Hicks Jr., a head and neck surgeon, to fill a vacancy on the NFTA’s Board of Commissioners. If approved by the full Legislature on Thursday, the recommendation would go to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for an appointment.

Hicks is chairman of the Department of Head & Neck Surgery at Roswell Park Cancer Institute and is a professor at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Services.

The Democrats, in a resolution submitted to the County Legislature, cited Hicks’ “solid credentials and a deep commitment to our region,” as well as his “energy and enthusiasm for the appointment.”

If his nomination is approved by Cuomo, Hicks would fill a commissioner’s seat left open after James J. Eagan resigned to become secretary of the Democratic State Committee. The remaining term would expire in June 2016.

Hicks was one of three people interviewed last week by a Legislature committee for the position. Former Council member Jeffrey Conrad, director of Erie County Center for Employment Opportunity, and Margaret A. Murphy, an attorney and former city court judge, also interviewed for the post.

Post election loss, Grant's leadership in Legislature praised

Betty Jean Grant with her supporters outside her campaign headquarters on Jefferson Street on primary night. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

By Denise Jewell Gee

Erie County Legislature Chairwoman Betty Jean Grant lost her bid for a State Senate seat, but she's won over her colleagues in county government.

Grant, a Buffalo Democrat, got a bipartisan standing ovation in the Legislature on Thursday after Legislator Kevin Hardwick, a Republican from the City of Tonawanda, praised her leadership.

"As someone who has lost a couple close elections myself, I wanted to tell you how impressed I was with the campaign that you ran recently for State Senate," Hardwick said. "I know that came up short, but I also am not that sad. Surely, not as sad as you, because under your leadership here this past year, things have been going rather well."

Several legislators have noted this year that the atmosphere in the Legislative chambers has been less acrimonious under Grant's leadership than it has been in recent years.

Grant replaced former Chairwoman Barbara Miller-Williams, a Buffalo Democrat who had gained the Legislature leadership post after forming a coalition with Legislature Republicans.

"I just wanted to let you know that this Republican is proud to point to you as our chair," Hardwick told Grant.

Warthling up for Water Authority reappointment

Erie County legislators are poised to reappoint Francis G. Warthling to a third term on the Erie Water Authority's Board of Commissioners.

Warthling, who serves as chairman of the Water Authority, appeared before the Legislature's Energy and Environment Committee last week. His reappointment to a three-year term is expected to be approved by the full Legislature on Thursday after Chairwoman Betty Jean Grant submitted his name for the position.

Warthling, 45, is chairman of the Lackawanna Democratic Committee. He is owner of Warthling Properties and is vice president of Diamond Cutters of Western New York. His family owns Curly's Grill & Banquet Center in Lackawanna.

Each commissioner on the three-member Water Aurthority board earns $22,500 a year.

-- Denise Jewell Gee

Five Questions with Betty Jean Grant

Every Sunday, we'll publish a quick Q&A with someone from the local political world. Instead of touching on the latest in policy issues and proposed legislation, the intent is to catch a glimpse of the person behind the title. The interviews are done via email.


Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant dances as results trickle in on election night in November. (Derek Gee/ Buffalo News)

Betty Jean Grant

The Basics:
Age: 63
Party: Democratic Party
Job Title:  2nd District Legislator and Chairwoman, Erie County Legislature
Family: Married to George E. Grant since 1970. Three daughters and four grandchildren.
Town: Buffalo
Education: Bachelor of Science in elementary education; Master's degree in special education
Salary: $52,000.00

Continue reading "Five Questions with Betty Jean Grant" »


About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri |

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski |