November 29, 2011 - 4:26 PM
Raymond W. Walter's election to the state Assembly has left an open seat in the Erie County Legislature.(Derek Gee/ Buffalo News File Photo)
There's a short-term gig available in the Erie County Legislature.
Raymond W. Walter, an Amherst Republican, formally resigned his 4th District Legislature seat last week to head to Albany to represent the 148th Assembly District. Walter won the unexpired term of former Assemblyman James P. Hayes, who resigned in September to take a private-sector job.
That leaves a vacancy in the 15-member county Legislature until the end of the year.
County Legislature Majority Leader John J. Mills said last week that Republicans are considering appointing someone to fill the seat -- which represents Clarence, Newstead, Akron and parts of Amherst and Cheektowaga -- for the remaining weeks in December.
Filling the job for only a few weeks, however, may be difficult.
The Legislature is scheduled to meet at least three more times before the end of the year, and could hold additional meetings if it needs to take up potential budget vetoes from County Executive Chris Collins.
Will Walter's absence change the voting power of GOP members of the Legislature as they take up Collins' 2012 budget proposal? Not likely.
Votes are still based on a 15-member Legislature, which means it will still take eight votes to make a budget change and 10 votes to override a veto. So the Dems, if they stick together, will have enough votes to make changes to the budget, but will still need to convince at least one of their Republican-caucusing colleagues to join them to override a veto.
By January, none of that will matter. The Legislature will downsize to 11 members, and Legislator Edward A. Rath III will take over a newly formed district representing Clarence, Newstead and northeastern sections of Amherst.
--Denise Jewell Gee