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Democratic Committee leaders to represent Erie County, Buffalo on WROTB board of directors

By Mike Pettinella

Two high-ranking officials of the Erie County Democratic Committee have been appointed to the Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. board of directors.

WROTB President/Chief Executive Officer Henry Wojtaszek informed The Batavian today that Jennifer Hibit and Crystal Rodriguez-Dabney, secretary and vice chair of the ECDC, respectively, will be joining the board and are expected to attend its next meeting on July 27 at Batavia Downs Gaming.

Hibit will represent Erie County, replacing Francis Warthling, while Rodriguez-Dabney will represent the City of Buffalo, replacing Michelle Parmer-Garner.

Wojtaszek also said that Terrance Baxter, a Republican and current Town of Moravia supervisor, will represent Cayuga County on the board. Baxter replaces Paul Lattimore.

The board was disbanded in May by New York State Assembly and Senate leaders and Gov. Kathy Hochul in response to a proposal by Democratic State Sen. Tim Kennedy of Buffalo to reconfigure the voting method from one municipality/one vote to a weighted system based on population.

As a result, the majority of the 100 votes are in the hands of directors from Erie and Monroe counties and Buffalo and Rochester.

Monroe and Schuyler counties have yet to announce their appointees to the 17-director board.

Hibit spent 11 years as the Chief of Staff for Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz before taking a position as the director of Human Resources last year with the Erie County Water Authority. During her time with Poloncarz’ staff, she served as the campaign manager for his election and re-election campaigns. 

Rodriguez-Dabney, an attorney, recently accepted the position of Senior Vice President & Chief Diversity Officer with Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Before that, she served for 15 months as the First Deputy Mayor and Chief of Staff for the City of Buffalo.

Baxter is a Member at Large on the Cayuga County Soil and Water Conservation District board and is a former Cayuga County legislator.

As previously reported by The Batavian, the other board members are Charles Zambito of Elba (Genesee County), Edward Morgan (Orleans County), Susan May (Wyoming County), Mark Burr (Cattaraugus County), Vincent Horrigan (Chautauqua County), Thomas Wamp (Livingston County), Elliott Winter (Niagara County), Mark Bombardo (Oswego County), Dennis Bassett (Rochester), Richard Ricci (Seneca County), Michael Horton (Steuben County) and Kenneth Lauderdale (Wayne County).

The weighted voting system gives Erie County 24 votes, followed by Monroe County (20), Buffalo (10) and Rochester (eight). Niagara County also has eight votes, while Chautauqua has five; Oswego, four; Steuben, Wayne, Cattaraugus and Cayuga, three each; Livingston and Genesee, two each; Wyoming, Orleans, Seneca and Schuyler, one each. The directors will serve four-year terms.

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