Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Years ago Ray Acito told me to stay out of politics, and that was good advice. This spring, for the first time since then I have been working with a candidate for Buffalo Common Council and although the experience has been interesting, and although I think Melanie McMahan is supremely well qualified I gotta say that I now have a better understanding about what Ray was getting at than I ever imagined. This is damn hard work. Melanie assembled a motivated team of friends back in March, and we schlepped through snow sleet and all the rest of Buffalo's Festival of Terrible Weather to get the signatures necessary to get on the ballot for the Democratic primary, only to have all of our petitions challenged because we used the wrong form. The Appellate Division will hear the appeal at tomorrow.

Undaunted by the sunk cost fallacy Melanie decided she was in for the long haul, and decided to canvas for an independent line on the ballot in November. This required even more signatures than we needed originally, but her friends and supporters, inspired by her grit, went out and got them. She filed yesterday and the deadline for challenges is Friday. I suppose I should mention that she is presently eight and a half months pregnant.

It more or less works out to a 20% hit rate when you go door to door- nobody's home, or they are pretending that they aren't home, or they don't have doorbells mostly. I have the sheets that reflect the responses, but when people declined to sign I did not record their reasons. Some were up front about it: they know the incumbent. This is not surprising: he grew up in the neighborhood that constitutes the largest population segment in the district, and his predecessor was popular and his cousin. A. and I went to law school with his parents, and count them as friends. His father is a first-rate lawyer, and his mother is the Chief Administrative Judge for our district, which was a pretty good argument for staying away from this contest. That said, at some point one's convictions either compel action or they cease to be convictions. As I have said in the past, sometimes after you say, "Someone should do something," you realize that if it is going to to be done you must do it. So here I am, at the white hot center of an insurgent political campaign. As Bob Dylan says, "Things should start to get interesting right about now."

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