By Robert J. McCarthy, originally published in The Buffalo News on November 17, 2017.

FORT ERIE , Ont. – A Democratic  fundraiser with close ties to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo sees tranquil days ahead for the once bitterly divided Peace Bridge Authority as he takes a leadership position on the bi-national panel.

Kenneth A. Manning, an engineer by training and partner in the Phillips Lytle law firm, succeeds Sam Hoyt as vice chairman of the bridge governing body following a unanimous vote of New York and Ontario members Friday morning in Fort Erie. He takes position after Hoyt resigned from his state posts last month amid an investigation of alleged sexual harassment.

Patrick Meredith will take Hoyt’s seat on the board as a new board member for the New York delegation. He is  the Department of Transportation’s assistant commissioner for western regional operations.

Manning, who already is on the board, believes conflicts between the New York and Canadian Ontario members are in the past, pointing to several years of cooperation and several new board members from both sides of the border since a dispute over progress at the bridge reached a crescendo in 2013.

“People are working together and it is very collaborative, which I encourage,” Manning said after the vote. “I’m pleased to be a part of it.”

Manning, 66, has long served as a behind the scenes but effective fundraiser for Democrats. He noted he also raises money for charitable causes, and assumes the authority leadership post with no marching orders from Cuomo.

“I don’t come with any instructions from anybody,” he said, adding he will continue as chairman “as long as necessary.”

Manning assumes Hoyt’s unexpired term, will serve as vice chairman for the rest of year, and then lead the authority in 2018 according to rules that rotate the chairmanship.

Meredith is a former commissioner of public works for the Town of Irondequoit. Board officials noted his appointment may prove temporary if DOT names someone else in the future.