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Kathy Konst is a former legislator and political candidate in western New York state. From 2006 to 2009, she represented Erie County's 5th County Legislature District, was a Democratic candidate for the 59th New York State Senate District in the 2008 general election. During the campaign she stepped down from her County Legislature position to accept the position of Commissioner of Environment, Planning, and Economic Development for Erie County, New York as part of a deal the Republican COUNTY Executive. Konst's actions resulting in handing the County Legislature over to the Republican party and in her own change of political affiliation. She has since left politics and moved to another state.
Also prior to being elected, Konst worked in environmental education and economic development for Florida Atlantic University and Palm Beach County, and owned a small marketing company. She also served as the head of the Lancaster Area Chamber of Commerce, concurrently with her legislative responsibilities.
One of Konst's main advocacy issues has been government reform, particularly term limits for state and local officials, and balancing the budget of Erie County, which was in a financial crisis at the time of her election in 2005. As chair of the Finance and Management Committee, she opposed the siphoning off of money from the Upstate Revitalization Fund to pay for projects in New York City, as well as unnecessary spending within Erie County.
Children and seniors issues are also heavily emphasized, ranging from education and lead-poisoning prevention to heating and energy assistance for low-income families and the elderly.
Konst was first elected to the Erie County legislature in 2005, in a victory against incumbent Denise Marshall after receiving the support of the local Democratic Committee, and won reelection in 2007.
In the 2008 state senate race, she defeated Tim Pawarski in the Democratic primary by margins greater than three to one, despite the latter's endorsement by the local Democratic Committee. She went on to face incumbent Dale Volker in the general election on November 4, losing by a 56 to 44 margin. The 59th Senate District was among several upstate Senate districts that allegedly was targeted in the last several days of the campaign with illegal robocalls misinforming voters. It was also a race in which she was accused of voting twice in an election, which was found accurate and verified by both NYS and Florida Board of Elections.
Effective August 17, 2009, Konst resigned from both her legislative seat and her position as head of the Lancaster Area Chamber of Commerce in order to take a position as the Commissioner of Environment and Planning for Erie County. Kathy Konst received criticism from Democratic Party activists for taking the position because it impaired the ability of the local Democratic Committee to field a competitive candidate in the following election. She was temporarily replaced in the Legislature by Diane M. Terranova. Following a suit by the Erie County Democratic Committee to remove Konst from their ballot line, the replacement Democratic nominee lost to Republican Dino Fudoli in November 2009. Despite withdrawing from the race, Konst received 21% of the vote on her remaining minor party ballot lines.
Denise E. Marshall
|5th District Erie County Legislator
Diane M. Terranova