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Howard Johnson abruptly resigns from Erie County Legislature

The image shows one person, county legislature chairwoman April Baskin, in front of podium. Six other people, including former legislator Howard Johnson, are standing behind the podium. The background is a blue screen with Erie County's logo on it. Posters, an American flag and a tripod can be seen on the edges of a photo.
Grant Ashley
Former Legislator Howard Johnson, third from the left, appears at a press conference in May. Johnson gave no prior indication to the public that he was considering leaving the legislature.

Howard Johnson is stepping down from his seat on the Erie County Legislature to become a deputy commissioner in the Erie County Board of Elections (BoE). Johnson’s last day in the legislature was Friday.

“I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to serve the public as the Legislator representing District 1. Over the course of the past five years, I have worked with my colleagues in government to improve the lives of the residents of our community,” Johnson said in a statement to WBFO. “I am excited for a new opportunity to serve at the Erie County Board of Elections.”

In his statement, Johnson also touted the creation of a Corrections Specialist Advisory Board to oversee the county’s jails, the establishment of the Urban Initiative Fund and the approval of pay raises for the county’s elected officials, calling those some of “the accomplishments I am most proud of.”

Johnson’s abrupt resignation reduces county Democrat’s majority in the legislature from 7-4 to 6-4.

The Erie County Democratic Committee will appoint someone to fill Johnson’s seat and represent District 1 in the legislature. That candidate will have to run for election in November to fill the latter half of Johnson’s two-year term. Then, because of a new state law that moves some local elections to even-numbered years (when state and federal races are also on the ballot), that candidate will have to run for another one-year term in 2025 and for a two-year term in 2026.

Legislative District 1 includes most of Buffalo’s East Side, the Lower West Side and downtown.