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What are county party committee races, and why do they matter? WBFO explains.

This picture shows the Erie County Board of Elections building. It's made of brick and five stories tall. It's triangular and jutting out into the car. Cars line the streets around the building.
Andre Carrotflower
Wikimedia Commons
Most of the races for county party committees in this election cycle will occur in Erie County. The Erie County Board of Elections' headquarters (pictured above) is located in downtown Buffalo.

Western New Yorkers don’t have a lot of options in this year’s primary elections. There’s a Republican primary in one of New York’s most conservative congressional districts, a single contest for a State Assembly seat and a smattering of races for local positions — think district attorney, town clerk or town councilmember.

But many primary voters will see another race on their ballot: “Member of County Committee.”

This primary cycle, dozens of candidates in Erie, Niagara, Orleans and Allegany Counties are running to become members of their county party committees. County party committees are obscure, elected by a small slice of voters, and powerful.

What do county party committees do, and why do they matter?

Whether in the Democratic, Republican or Conservative Parties, county committees’ main function is to endorse candidates in party primaries.

But that endorsement is more than just a seal of approval. County party committees help their chosen candidates gather petition signatures, canvass likely voters, purchase lawn signs, secure spots in parades and attend to all the minute details of campaigns for office.

That gives party-endorsed candidates a huge leg up over their primary opponents, who have to organize that campaign infrastructure themselves. Committee members don’t pick candidates, but they effectively put a thumb on the scale in favor of their chosen office-seeker.

Who are committee members?

Party committees are made up of as many as hundreds of party members from all over a given county. Committee members are elected by the registered party members of election districts every two years. Vacant seats are relatively common — especially in smaller election districts — but party officials can appoint someone to fill those seats.

Each election district gets to send two members to the committee. Election districts are small, so races for county committee are often decided by just a few votes.

In all other races, the winner of the primary simply advances to the general election. But since committee members are chosen by party members, the winner of the primary gets the seat.

Where are county committee races happening this election cycle?

The Democratic, Republican and Conservative Parties all have county committee seats on the ballot in this month’s primary elections. County committee races are being contested in certain election districts in Buffalo, Amherst, Grand Island and Lockport, as well as in other parts of Erie, Niagara, Orleans and Allegany Counties.

Early voting in this year’s primaries runs through Sunday. Primary Election Day is Tuesday.

To figure out what election district you live in, consult your county’s board of elections:

Races for county party committee seats are occurring in the following districts:

Democratic Party:

  • City of Buffalo
    • Ellicott Common Council District
      • Election District 1: Darius Pridgen, Xavier Riley, Jeffrey Carballada, Matthew Dearing
      • Election District 11: Dorothy Gadley, Shateek Payne, Michael Gainer, Taj Richardson
    • Fillmore Common Council District
      • Election District 21: Christopher Hawley, Gregory Olma, Ivory Payne, Phyllis Yarborough
    • Masten Common Council District
      • Election District 4: Latesha Wiley, Oswaldo Mestre, Nathan Feist
      • Election District 24: Denise Kelly, Amun Ra, Stephanie Clemons, Larry Kelly
    • Niagara Common Council District
      • Election District 13: Emlyn Rivera, Keelan Erhard, Marc Panepinto, Stephanie Adams
      • Election District 21: Kevin Deese, Carole Perla, Jonathan Rivera
    • North Common Council District
      • Election District 13: Peter Grace, Sarita Lanzo Lopez, Joseph Golombek, Mark Kubiniec
      • Election District 21: Eve Shippens, Shannon Fracos, David Caligiuri, Jason Howe
  • Brant Election District 1: Patricia Brady, Paul Cesana, Debra Ritz, Kathleen Chiavetta
  • Belfast: Lynn Thompson, Mary Abraham, Gwen Ashford

Republican Party:

  • City of Buffalo
    • Ellicott Common Council District
      • Election District 1: Ernest Starzec, Bozena Starzec
      • Election District 4: Richard Dread, Donald Howell Jr.
      • Election District 9: Md Ahad, James Kaczorowski
      • Election District 12: Tyrone St. John, Eddie Williams
    • Fillmore Common Council District
      • Election District 14: Tadeusz Nowacki, Preston Parson
    • Lovejoy Common Council District
      • Election District 13: Beau Bishop, Sean Miles
    • Niagara Common Council District
      • Election District 11: Matthew Poole, Tammy Totaro
      • Election District 15: George Koczon, Gary Reeb
    • South Common Council District
      • Election District 1: Marzena Wisniewski, Bogdan Wisniewski
      • Election District 18: Ronald Dujinski, Sheila Dujinski
  • Amherst Election District 30: Pamela Huff, Lisa Rutkowski
  • Elma
    • Election District 1: Stefan Mychajliw Jr., Wayne Clark, Ashley Mychajliw, Brendan Ball
    • Election District 6: James Malczewski, Patricia King, James Lembke Sr., Michele Malczewski
    • Election District 7: Jeffrey Breidenstein, Kenneth White, Timothy Walczyk, Howard Diehl
  • Grand Island
    • Election District 1: Daniel Kilmer, Eric Baur, Frank Greco, Duffy MacGuire
    • Election District 2: Joseph Spinella, Patricia Frentzel, Susannah Zherebilov
    • Election District 5: Michael Madigan, Leslie Madigan, Robert Diehl, Rhonda Diehl
    • Election District 6: Sherry Steffans, Phyllis Martin, Thomas Digati
    • Election District 7: Jeanne Treat, Robert Richardson, John Rottaris, Kenneth Hamm
    • Election District 8: Norman Mrkall II, Peter Marston Jr., Michele Kilmer, Dean Morakis
    • Election District 9: Lou Ann Cane, Vincent Ricotta, Christopher Soluri, Kristin Ochs
    • Election District 10: Debra Ann Daigler, Elizabeth Wilbert, Ronald Cooke, Richard Crawford Jr.
    • Election District 11: Gregory Internicola, Andrew Grinchishin, Scott Hammond, Christian Bahleda
    • Election District 13: James Daigler, John Whitney, Daniel Sperrazza, Abraham Zherebilov
  • Hartland
    • Election District 1: Elizabeth Neadow, Margaret Zaepfel, W. Ross Annable, Chad Hurtgam
    • Election District 2: Karen Walp, Sean Walp, David Hunington, Paula Banks-Dahlke
  • Lockport
    • Election District 2: Stacy McFall, Thomas Grzebinski II, Derek Howe
    • Election District 8: Darlene DiCarlo, Donald Jablonski, Joseph Miller
    • Election District 10: David Mongielo, Gail Chenez, Raymond Chenez
  • Royalton
    • Election District 1: Jodi Salamone, Philip Salamone, Jeremy Ingraham, Bradley Rowles
    • Election District 2: Richard Grady, Lisa Menno, Kyle Brent, Scott Wymyczak
    • Election District 3: Daniel Bragg, Larry Childs, Nicholas Sparks, Shawn Zglinicki
  • Hume: Chris Austin, Darlene Mason, Deborah Wagoner
  • Shelby
    • Election District 3: Bruce Schmidt, Alana Koneski, Stephen Seitz Sr.
    • Election District 4: John Pratt III, Benjamin Flansburg, Thomas Winans
  • Yates Election District 2: Terry Chaffee Jr., William Jurinich, Lynne Johnson, Steven Colon

Conservative Party:

  • Amherst Election District 43: Derek Pusch, Michael Spoth, Joseph Blask
  • Evans
    • Election District 1: Christine Coventry, Daniel Regan, Kathleen Glass, James Glass
    • Election District 2: Brandon Judson, Jeanne Ebersole, Robert Ebersole
    • Election District 3: Samuel Lomando, Christine Hanley, James Hanley, Charles Castiglia
    • Election District 4: Brian Valenti, Amy Valenti, Valerie Stonitsch, Matthew Stonitsch
    • Election District 5: Craig Durham, Christopher Larusso, Dawn Frost, Renee Stonitsch
    • Election District 6: Karyn Carriero, Jeffery McSkimming, James O’Connor
    • Election District 7: Christopher Tucker, Stanley Radwan, Cynthia Rizzuto
    • Election District 8: James Bingenheimer, Stacy Bingenheimer, Tamora Lonkey, Andrew Lonkey
    • Election District 9: Matthew Rzepka, Angelina Sinclair, Kevin Hoffman, Allison Lonkey
    • Election District 10: Tammy Sinclair, Matthew Frost, Jennifer Kilcoyne, Kimberly Frost
    • Election District 11: Teresa Rizzuto, Joshua Westfall, Tyler Hill, Alexander Zybert
    • Election District 13: Timothy Hollander, Rachel Castiglia, Deneen Lomando
    • Election District 14: Sam Lomando, Janet Heuer, Ernest Masullo, James Villa