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May 15, 2015 - 3:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics.

Via our news partner, WBTA:

The Genesee County Republican Committee has endorsed its slate of candidates for this Fall’s election. The county committee met last night, Chairman Richard Seibert told WBTA this morning. All incumbent GOP legislators were endorsed for reelection except Legislative District 7 and city wards 1 and 6.

Incumbent Frank Ferrando is retiring and the nod went to Batavia City Councilman-at-large John DeLeo.

DeLeo was challenged for the endorsement by fellow councilman-at-large Eugene Jankowski.

DeLeo won the endorsement.

The republicans have no candidate for District 9, the post held by the legislatures lone Democrat Ed DeJanerio.

The GOP Endorsed Slate: (i) = incumbent
Coroner: (i) Barry Miller
County Attorney (i) Charles Zambito, recommendation
Legislative Districts:
Dist. 1 Alabama and Oakfield: Raymond Ciantrini (i)
Dist. 2 Elba: Robert Bausch (i)
Dist. 3 Pembroke and Darien: Michael Davis (i)
Dist. 4 Batavia and Stafford: Andrew Young (i)
Dist. 5 Le Roy: Rochelle Stein (i)
Dist. 6 Alexander, Bethany and Pavilion: Gregg Torrey (i)
Dist. 7 City Wards 1 & 6: John DeLeo
Dist. 8 City Wards 2 & 3: Marianne Clattenburg (i)
Dist. 9 City Wards 4 & 5 no candidate

April 17, 2015 - 11:01am
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, Conservative Party.

The Conservative Party is looking for candidates to run in the upcoming elections throughout Genesee County.

Local Chairman John Roach said there's no "check-off list" of correct issues for potential Conservative candidates, just a general philosophy for candidates to uphold.

"We are just looking for civic-minded people who have the time and desire to serve," Roach said. "Men or women who remember that the money being spent is not theirs; it is the people's and should be spent wisely. People who will do their best to keep the public informed about what is going on."

Those who are interested should send a letter and resume to: 

The Genesee County Conservative Party
P.O. Box 1686
Batavia, NY 14021-1686

March 12, 2015 - 3:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in politics, Darien, republicnas.

Press release:

The Town of Darien Republican Committee is accepting letters of intent for the following endorsements: Town Council, Town Supervisor, and Town Justice.

All interested parties should submit letters of interest no later than May 1st to:

Town of Darien Republican Committee

Jeffery F. Phelps, Chairman

PO Box 295, Alexander NY 14005

October 27, 2014 - 11:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, Mike Ranzenhofer.

Perhaps you've seen this campaign mailer attacking Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer. 

The Ranzenhofer campaign issued a statement about it today:

Albany's special interests are at it again. This time, a powerful teachers union is attacking a legislative idea suggested by a group of fourth-grade students and their teacher. It's ironic that the union representing teachers is attacking a legislator for getting a law passed to make yogurt the official state snack when students at Byron-Bergen Elementary School first requested it. What is even more bizarre is that the political mailing is filled with a myriad of spelling errors. It misspells loses ("looses"), Ranzenhofer ("Razenhofer"), the Town of Batavia ("Batvia") and the yogurt manufacturer, Alpina ("Aplina"). If the union handed in this political attack to be graded, it would be returned with red ink all over it with a note to keep practicing spelling. Teachers union candidate Elaine Altman should give it a failing grade.

October 24, 2014 - 1:26pm
posted by Billie Owens in politics, Elections, hawley, Conservative Party.

Press release:

The Genesee County Conservative Party has endorsed the reelection of Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

He has shown over and over that he represents the thoughts and wishes of the district. It has been hard for him with the Downstate liberal majority controlling the State. But he has kept on trying and has not gone the path of “go along to get along” that many have taken.

He has been a very strong supporter or the 2nd Amendment and our right to own firearms if we want. He supports the full repeal of the SAFE ACT, which only punishes legal gun owners and does nothing to stop crime. Steve Hawley has been endorsed by the NRA and the local pro 2nd Amendment group, SCOPE.

He is pro-business and has received a 100-percent rating from Unshackle Upstate and the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Steve owns his own local business, hiring local people.

This November, we ask you to vote on the Conservative Party line (Row C) and show your support for Steve Hawley.

On Behalf of the Executive Committee,
Dann G Neale
Vice-Chairman Conservative Party of Genesee County

October 16, 2014 - 2:01pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, politics, GOP.

Press release:

The City of Batavia Republican Committee held its annual Fall Fundraiser at Terry Hills on Tuesday Oct. 14.

Chairman Bob Bialkowski opened the event and made the introductions.

The event was well attended with Congressman Collins, Senator Razenhofer, Assemblyman Hawley, Legislators Cianfrini and Clattenburg and the six city Republican Councilmen.

Congressman Collins gave an update on the present state of affairs in Washington. Assemblyman Hawley spoke about activities and legislation in Albany.

There was a raffle with many prizes given away.

Any Republicans interested in serving on the committee or running for office please contact Chairman Bialkowski at [email protected] or Tel: 343-4471.

August 12, 2014 - 3:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, politics, Rob Astorino, Chris Moss.

Gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino was scheduled to be in Batavia today, but he had a family emergency and is unable to make his scheduled campaign appearances.

His running mate Chris Moss will however be at the the GOP Women's meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Batavia Downs, and then he will also speak at the SCOPE meeting at 7 p.m. at Calvary Baptist Church, 3515 Galloway Road.

The sign placed in front of Batavia Marine on West Main anticipated Astorino being in town today, but then his plans changed.

Astorino, who hopes to unseat Andrew Cuomo, has been crisscrossing the state for several months, but has yet to make an appearance in Genesee County.

CORRECTION: Astornio visited Genesee County two days after announcing his candidacy. He made an appearance at Larry's Steakhouse.

July 4, 2014 - 9:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, politics, kathy hochul.

UPDATE: Kathy Hochul at Picnic in the Park later in the day with Wayne Fuller. Photo sent to us by a third party, but originated with a member of Hochul's staff.

NOTE: You may be wondering why there are no pictures to go with Kathy Hochul's stop at the farmer's market. My camera was still set up for multiple exposures from last night's fireworks at the Muckdogs game. A fact I didn't discover until I got home. This also left me with no usable pictures from the Kiwanis 5K to benefit autism research.  

Genesee County's former congressional representative, Kathy Hochul, now running for Lieutenant Governor, said she's been craving some brownie-stuffed cookies from the Batavia Downs Farmer's Market, so Hochul said she decided to get an early start on her campaign day and drive out to Batavia.

Hochul also bought strawberries and hand-crafted chocolate.

"It's a big state and I've got to go to all four corners, but I love Genesee County and I'll be out here as often as I can," Hochul said.

After terms as Erie County County Clerk and in the House of Representatives, Hochul worked for about 18 months for M&T Bank. It was a job she said she loved and still got her out into the community, but when Gov. Andrew Cuomo called and asked her to replace Robert Duffy on the election ticket, Hochul said she was tugged by the lure of representing people in New York again.

"I realized when the call came, there was a little bit of an emptiness, that I really wanted to get back and serve people in a more direct way, so I could not have been more thrilled than to have received the call and accept this honor and start running," Hochul said.

This, she said, is what she was meant to do.

"It's not something I pushed for at all," Hochul said. "When I think it about it, it just feels right, to be back out there meeting people all over this amazing state. I love my congressional district and I love representing Upstate New York, but the opportunity to go all over the state and meet new people and see them in their environments and businesses, I just feel like this is a calling. I've always thought public service is a calling. I'm so delighted to be back in the game."

As a candidate for reelection to Congress, Hochul had won over pretty much all of the gun rights groups, campaigning as a strong advocate for the Second Amendment. Now she's working for a man who has become the most reviled politician in New York by gun rights advocates. Hochul said she doesn't believe there is a contradiction in her position then or now.

Here's her full response to that question:

I believe there is a middle ground. I know many, many gun owners. I have family members who are marksmen and who are hunters and this is part of a culture up here and people need to understand that. There's no effort to remove guns from legitimate gun owners. I think there is sometimes a hysteria that's created, but people have to understand we respect the Second Amendment, but also there are many people who understand the need for background checks. As a county clerk, I like the fact that there are background checks performed, because there are people you don't want to have guns in their hands. They could do harm to fellow citizens. I believe there is an accommodation and I believe there is a reasonable approach. The extremes on one side or the other aren't going to agree with that, but that's how I've been my entire life in public service. There's a pragmatic middle ground and if people are willing to listen to each other, we'll get to the right answer. That's where I stand.

The stop at a farmer's market reminded her a lot of her term in Congress, she said, especially representing farmers.

"It reminds me so many tours of the farms and the struggles they face, when the weather's bad and there's a flood or a drought or there's army worms," Hochul said. "They're such resilient people and to know that I'll be in a position to promote their work in a new capacity as Lieutenant Governor working with Gov. Cuomo, it's going to be great."

June 19, 2014 - 5:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, bergen, Green Party.

Story by Sloane Martin, WBTA:

Howie Hawkins is running for governor for the second consecutive election on the Green Party tab.

A recent poll showed that a progressive candidate could cut significantly into the incumbent Democrat’s lead, giving that fresh option a chance.

Hawkins says he can be that candidate.

“We stand for progressive policies that benefit working people,” he said. “I think that’s what that poll says people are looking for. Those are the people who understand Cuomo’s been very conservative economically. He’s underfunded schools, he’s giving tax breaks to the rich and they’re looking for an alternative.

“Our problem is not that they don’t agree with us. It’s that they never heard of us.”

In Bergen Thursday afternoon before meeting with party members from the tri-county area, Hawkins outlined a six-point proposal to turn things around for the Empire State called the Green New Deal. It draws parallels to the Roosevelt domestic programs, but updates them for modern times seeking to bring jobs. For example, Hawkins supports giving unemployed people public jobs, similar to the WPA.

Hawkins says Cuomo’s problem is doing nothing about income inequality.

“The idea is: we give money to the rich and it trickles down; we have decades of evidence to show it doesn’t work. If we restored the progressive tax structure we had in the '70s, we’d have $30 billion more,” he said. “That’s about 21 percent more than we take in now and that would fund the Green New Deal.”

The other points as part of the Green New Deal include raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, ensuring New Yorkers can make a living wage with single-payer health insurance, working to limit segregation in schools, providing affordable housing and mass transit and cultivating renewable energy.

Hawkins also had strong words about hydrofracking. He said the job impact estimates for the controversial natural gas drilling process are greatly exaggerated.

“No one denies the environmental dangers of fracking,” he said. “What’s not being communicated well is the economic benefits of going to 100-percent clean energy by 2030 far outweighs any economic benefits we could get from fracking. The most outlandish estimates I’ve seen from pro-fracking flacks from the industry is 200,000 jobs. We’re talking about 4.5 million jobs over the next 15 years (with clean energy). A lot of those are manufacturing, a lot of those are construction; those are good paying jobs. You want an economic boom? Go with clean energy.”

June 9, 2014 - 8:26am
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, bergen, Howie Hawkins, Green Party.

Press release:

Howie Hawkins, Green Party candidate for governor of New York State, will conduct a press conference in Bergen on Thursday, June 19 to be followed by a meet-and-greet with local Green Party members.

The slate of Hawkins, Brian Jones, lieutenant governor, Ramon Jimenez, attorney general and Theresa Portelli, comptroller, was nominated at the recent Green Party state convention in Troy.

Hawkins launches his second bid for NY executive after running against Andrew Cuomo in 2010. Jimenez is also reprising a run for AG.

The Green Party candidates have dubbed their platform, the Green New Deal. Hawkins says he plans to challenge the 1-percent tag team of Cuomo and Republican nominee Astorino on economic, climate change and criminal justice issues. Hawkins also wants NY to go carbon free with a 100-percent clean renewable energy by 2030, while providing a public living wage job to any New Yorker who needs one.

The Greens selected NYC Educator Brian Jones to highlight their opposition to Cuomo's education policies promoting privatization of the education system, including his promotion of the Common Core agenda and charter schools. The Greens are seeking full funding to meet the educational needs of New Yorkers, including free tuition at CUNY and SUNY.

The press conference in Bergen is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the residence of Genesee County Green Party member Chris Barons, 24 Clinton St. A Meet-and-Greet will follow a presentation to local Greens at 4 p.m. The event is open to the public.

May 23, 2014 - 7:32pm
posted by Bob Harker in politics, Obama, polls, opinions.

Has anyone that has EVER given a hand UP - be it employment or otherwise, seen a positive influence by the obama Administation other than a hand OUT? Please document it.

 

Howard, I hope you post this as a poll.

April 29, 2014 - 9:55pm

Official GCLP press release from David Olsen, vice chair:

Phil Ricci, currently the chair and state representative of the Genesee County Libertarian Party, a recognized chapter of the Libertarian Party of New York, will now be an officer of the LPNY. At the LPNY Convention in Albany on April 26, 2014, Ricci was elected a vice chair of the State party. According to the LPNY bylaws, among the responsibilities which may be delegated to him by the chair or the State Committee are the operations of the State headquarters, production of the party newsletter, promotion of county organizations and Party membership and development of literature for distribution by the LPNY.

The GCLP is proud of Phil and all his accomplishments and we are happy he will share his creativity and leadership abilities with the LPNY all across the great State of New York. Phil will retain his membership in the GCLP and will continue his work on local issues along with his new statewide duties.

Also at the LPNY convention, a slate of candidates for statewide office was elected. After hearing from six very strong Libertarians who sought the nomination for Governor and after five rounds of voting, Michael McDermott, of Huntington, was selected to be the party’s nominee. Chris Edes of Rochester is our Lieutenant Governor candidate, John Clifton, of Queens, is the State Comptroller candidate and Carl Person, of Manhattan, is the Attorney General candidate.

The Genesee County Libertarian Party was formed in 2013 as a chapter of the LPNY. We will be having our 2nd annual convention followed by the  GCLP sponsored Buffet & Free Play: A Community Celebration  on Saturday, May 31, 2014 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Batavia Downs Gaming on Park Road in Batavia. Admission to the celebration is by advance ticket purchase only. Tickets are limited so purchase yours soon! Tickets are $25 and are available by contacting any GCLP member, calling Debbie Paine at 716-474-0125, or seeing Debbie Paine in person Monday-Thursday 8 a.m to  5 p.m. at Arctic Refrigeration, 26 Cedar St., Batavia. The $25 ticket price includes a buffet dinner, tax, gratuity, and $25 free play for the gaming floor (you must be 18 or older to redeem the free play). There will be a Community Basket Raffle sponsored by Kiwanis Club of Batavia -- all proceeds will benefit the Genesee County Child Advocacy Center. Also there will be numerous other baskets to be raffled to benefit the GCLP. For more information, please go to: http://www.gclpny.org/buffetfreeplay. Plan to join us May 31, we’d love to see as many of our neighbors as we can.

The Libertarian Party is America's third largest political party, founded in 1971. Our vision is for a world in which all individuals can freely exercise the natural right of sole dominion over their own lives, liberty and property by building a political party that elects Libertarians to public office, and moving public policy in a libertarian direction.

November 6, 2013 - 1:36am
posted by Bonnie Marrocco in batavia, politics, city council, Elections.

It was a clean sweep for the GOP in Batavia's race to fill three at-large seats on the City Council in a year when the party was facing a new challenge from local Libertarians for the first time.

Eugene Jankowski Jr., Brooks Hawley and John Deleo easily secured four-year terms on the council.

Libertarians Jim Rosenbeck and Lisa Whitehead finished eighth and ninth in the crowded field.

Hawley, the lone incumbent among the winners, got 1,179 votes, according to the still unofficial tally.

"We visited almost every street and home in Batavia,” Hawley said. “People saw how dedicated we are and they believe we will use that dedication in City Council as well.”

Hard work was part of the GOP strategy this year, said city Chair Matt Landers, who acknowledged the Libertarian presence on the ballot and the fact the new local party was out working hard helped motivate the Republicans.

“They were working very hard and they are an upstart group with a passionate base and we definitely took them seriously,” Landers said.

Rosenbeck received 358 votes and Whitehead 243 votes. 

The low vote totals didn't discourage party Chairman Phil Ricci at all, who told the party members at their election headquarters at Larry's Steakhouse that Rosenbeck would become the committee chairman of the party's new city committee.

“We started with a small group of concerned, like-minded citizens, set with the task of creating an alternative to the existing political parties,” Ricci said. “That little ragtag group grew into a solid core group of committed individuals who felt strongly enough about our core principles, and even stronger about the lack of real choice, to give it a go.”

Jankowski, a former Batavia PD lieutenant, said after a hard-fought campaign, he's ready to get to work, serving his community in a new capacity.

"We work well together, people respect us and they want us to be their leaders in the community," said Jankowski, who received 1,269 votes.

Deleo, who garnered 1,309 votes, said the three winners will make a good team going forward, just as they did as campaign mates.

“We all have our own strengths and together it works for the best,” Deleo said.

Rosenbeck remained upbeat about the Libertarian effort.

“It has been a success and we wish the GOP well,” Rosenbeck said.

Rounding out the field were Diana Kisiel Kastenbaum, 586 votes, Thomas Clark, 552 votes, John Demske, 631 votes, and Rose Mary Christian, 406 votes.

Katenbaum, a Batavia native who moved away for many years and then returned to her hometown vowed to stay involved in her community.

 “I sit on a couple boards, Go-Art and Landmark Society, and I will continue working for the citizens of Batavia,” Kastenbaum said. “As a citizen I can be as active as I choose to be and I hope to be.”

For complete election results visit WBTA.com.

Top Photo (by Howard Owens): Phil Ricci speaks to Libertarian Party members.

John Deleo, Joe Gerace and John Roach watch the election results get posted at the GOP headquarters for the night at City Slickers (photo by Howard Owens).

November 6, 2013 - 12:21am
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, election, county legislature.

With only 21 votes separating the two candidates for the District 9 seat on the County Legislature and 100 absentee ballots yet to be counted, neither incumbent Ed Dejanerio nor challenger Bob Bialkowski were interested in predicting the outcome of the race.

"I'm in the minority and who knows," Dejanerio said, acknowledging his role as the sole Democrat on the Legislature as well as the slight registration advantage for the GOP in District 9. "I do my best and that's all I can do."

Both candidates worked hard, they said of each other, and presented a stiff challenge throughout the campaign.

The unofficial tally has Dejanerio up 362 to 341.

Dejanerio is simply hard to beat, Bialkowski said.

"There's a lot of Democrats in the district," Bialkowski said. "Ed's been there a long time. Ed's a likable sort of guy. People like Ed. I'm pleased I've done as well as I have. Other people have tried running against Ed but have never done so well."

City GOP Chairman Matt Landers agreed.

"It's hard to beat an incumbent," Landers said. "Ed's been there a long time. He's beaten Republicans in the past. Bob worked really hard and we'll see how it breaks."

Things broke better for the GOP in the other three contested Legislature races.

Shelly Stein beat Earl Funderburk 1087 to 427 in District 5. Gregg Torrey beat incumbant Esther Leadley, a Republic who didn't get her party's nomination, 706 to 373, and the race was apparently made closer by the presence of a Libertarian on the ballot. Marianne Clattenburg beat Bill Fava 385 to 271 with Bob Brown picking up 82 votes.

"Bob did hurt us," Landers said. "We were worried that he would peel off Republican votes and it was relatively close between Marianne and the Democrat."

None of the big issues facing the County Legislature seemed to play a role in voters' decisions, based on the feedback candidates were getting while walking precincts. Voters rarely mentioned the nursing home, the Genesee County Economic Development Center, mandates, or hiring more jail guards.

People were concerned about taxes, but in the District 9 race, there isn't much difference on the issue between Dejanerio and Bialkowski.

"People are against any kind of property tax increase," Bialkowski said. "People in the city are hard pressed right now and when they hear that they're going to have a public hearing on going over the tax cap, that doesn't sit well with people. It doesn't sit well with me."

Top photo: Ed Dejanerio, city council candidate Diana Kastenbaum with Pat Burke at O'Lacy's while awaiting election results.

Matt Landers congratulates Gregg Torrey on his District 6 victory.

November 2, 2013 - 12:28pm

On January 21st of this year, a small group of concerned, like minded citizens, set to the task of creating an alternative to the existing political parties. We didn’t know how to do it really, and we most certainly had no idea if it would work, but we felt strongly enough about our core principles, and even stronger about the lack of real choice, to give it a go. It has been a great success!

As of June 8th, that little ragtag group of four people grew into a solid core group of committed individuals whose numbers were reaching one hundred fifty, and we’ve grown even more since then. On that same evening, we were not only officially formed as a chapter of the New York Libertarian Party (Fastest ever to do so), but we also nominated our series of candidates, Jim Rosenbeck, Lisa Whitehead, and a few weeks later, Robert Brown. It’s these wonderful people, we would like just a moment of your time to discuss.

 Jim is one the finest men we know. He’s caring and compassionate, just ask the hundreds of students that he impacted in his twenty seven year career as a school counselor at Pembroke Schools. He is giving with his time, willing to listen to any and all opinions, and respecting everyone who brings it. He is honest, transparent, and most of all, incredibly thoughtful. Jim doesn’t react first, then ask questions like we have seen too much in recent years. Jim asks questions, gathers facts, seeks input from those it will affect, and then makes a non-emotional decision based on a long term vision. He believes in not just impacting today, but tomorrow as well.

Lisa is the perfect example of a powerful woman! She is a no nonsense individual that knows how to get things done, negotiate to find the best solution for all sides, and has the foresight to understand that all perspectives can lead you to the correct path if you just listen. Yet, she is also “Mrs. Whitehead” to hundreds of our kids at John Kennedy, guiding them with care and compassion. Lisa knows how important a good plan is, which is why she is always seeking to understand the full vision in everything she does. She is kind, creative, honest and open to any and all that need her.

Robert, or Bob to us, is sincerely all of the good qualities of A Beautiful Mind. He is without a doubt one of the most analytical minds that we have ever met. He doesn’t just understand things, he is able to dissect them into fundamental pieces, then show anyone how they’re interacting with everything else. What you end up getting from that, is one of the most thoughtful, prepared and fact driven individuals in this area! Bob cares so deeply for his neighbors, and is always willing to listen to anyone that approaches him. He is honest, open, and brave.

Yes, we really like these people, and yes we are the people who endorsed them, so we should, right? True, but as two individuals, we also wanted to share with you how excited we are to actually have people we want to represent us! It has been a rare thing these past years to have that, and now we do! So with that, we like to humbly ask you to consider voting for Jim Rosenbeck and Lisa Whitehead for Batavia City Council at Large, and Bob Brown for Genesee County Legislature District 8 on November 5th!

Thank you,

Phil Ricci and Dave Olsen

Chair and Vice Chair,

Genesee County Libertarian Party

August 28, 2013 - 9:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, Democrats, Le Roy.

Press release:

The Le Roy Democratic Committee held its nominating caucus on Monday Aug. 26 at the Le Roy Town Hall for the Nov. 5 general election.

The Party is proud to announce a diverse and dynamic ticket leading into the November elections.

Michael Welsh is the Party's choice for Le Roy Town Justice. Mike is married to Gail Rudgers and is a local attorney and community activist, who most recently has devoted his time and talent to the Le Roy Community Pool. He served the people of Le Roy  for 21 years on the Genesee County Legislature.

Incumbent Town Councilman Tom Stella was nominated for his second full term. Tom has served the community well on the board for six years. In addition to being the past Deputy Town Supervisor, he serves as the liaison for the Fire Commission and the liaison for the Farmland Protection Commission. He is married to wife, Deborah, and is a proud father and grandfather.

The caucus also nominated newcomer Kelly Carlie who is running for the second Town Board seat. Kelly, married to George and mother of three grown children with one grandchild and another on the way, is employed as a counselor at Elba Central School. She is also a small business owner and has served on the Holy Family School Board, was a former 4-H Leader and former Girl Scout leader.

Earlier in the summer Earl Funderburk garnered the Democratic endorsement for County Legislature through the petition process.

August 15, 2013 - 5:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, politics, genesee county libertarian party.

There was a bit of history at the county's election's office this afternoon -- for the first time in Genesee County history, Libertarians turned in signatures to put their own candidates on a local election ballot.

Batavia City Council candidates Lisa Whitehead (center) and Jim Rosenbeck (right) need 191 valid signatures to get spots on the ballot.

In New York's system, the Republican and Democrat candidates get to gather signatures first. When they're done, so-called third party candidates can gather signatures. None of the third-party signatures can duplicate signatures gathered by the Republicans and Democrats.

They all, of course, must be registered voters.

The Libertarians turned in 459 total signatures, which will now be reviewed by the election commissions to see if the minimum threshold of valid signatures have been met.

With Whitehead and Rosenbeck is Phil Ricci, chairman of the Genesee County Libertarian Party.

June 19, 2013 - 3:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, county legislature, GCEDC.

It's not every year that a local election has at least one issue that might sway voters. With all the attention garnered by the Genesee County Economic Development Center since the last County Legislature election, this November the opinions candidates hold on GCEDC funding and its policies might be an important issue for voters. We thought it a worthwhile public service to get candidates on the record on this issue as soon as they were declared candidates.

In posing the questions to the GOP candidates -- the first group to declare -- we found not all of the candidates agreed with that assessment.

We received objections to answering questions along the lines that it was too soon; wait until the election is closer; "my position is already well known"; and, most surprising, that candidates shouldn't have to answer questions before all of the candidates are declared.

There is apparently some concern that since there's still weeks left for candidates to declare, some candidates thought they shouldn't be asked policy questions until after the filing deadlines. None of the candidates explicitly stated that they fear their answers might prompt another candidate to enter the race. They did express concern that they would be sharing opinions that would be read by potential opponents before those opponents needed to answer the questions.

That's not a line of thinking The Batavian finds terribly persuasive. Any candidate should be willing to speak openly and publicly about their positions without fear of the political repercussions. If an opinion might spur another candidate to enter the race, well, then, that's good for democracy. If a candidate lacks sufficient confidence in a position that it will be easily targeted by opposition, then perhaps he or she should reconsider that position.

The filing deadlines are July 11 for candidates running on an established party line, and Aug. 20 for a candidate running as an independent (creating his or her own party line).

Below are the answers to our three GCEDC-related questions we received from six of the declared Republican candidates, the three declared Democrats and the lone independent to enter the race so far. After the three questions are statements we received from the three candidates who did not answer the questions. 

Question 1: Traditionally, there has been an item in the county budget to transfer money to GCEDC to assist funding the operations of the agency. Last year,  GCEDC received $215,000 in the county budget. Do you support continuing this fund transfer to GCEDC, or should it be eliminated or modified?

Shelley Stein, incumbent, Dictrict 5: The Genesee County Legislature has supported GCEDC at approximately 20% of the GCEDC 2013 approved budget. Moving forward I would support same level of funding to provide for foundational costs of GCEDC operations. Eighty percent of GCEDC’s budget must be derived from providing services and collecting fees for services from business community, grants and contractual annuity payments, not taxpayer dollars. Additionally, LeRoy Business Council and small businesses located in LeRoy are very supportive of the foundational funding of the GCEDC.

Earl Funderburk, challenger, District 5: I do not support the continuation of county budget funds to GCEDC. They have millions of dollars from fees and no longer require funds from the county.

Esther Leadley, incumbent, District 6: Every year the upcoming County budget gets several months of intense scrutiny – by the whole legislature, not just a committee. GCEDC’s funding request is always included in that scrutiny. Please note that State and Federal mandates continually erode the County legislators’ ability to provide a quality of life that Genesee County residents have come to expect.

We legislators have already begun general discussions about the 2014 budget. As we go forward, I am confident GCEDC’s funding request, when it is received, will be one of the topics of discussion. I will weigh all input and make my decision at that time.

Please also note that companies considering making a significant investment in Genesee County want concrete evidence that the County’s leadership has financial “skin in the game.”

Gregg Torrey, challenger (GOP endorsed), District 6: Every item included in the County budget needs be evaluated and that includes the funding which assists the operations of the GCEDC. With the increasing pressure put on County Government by State and Federal unfunded mandates each department must justify its funding request.

I was encouraged to see that the incentive compensation system at the GCEDC was eliminated last year. I am now more confident that the funding is directed to the intended purpose of supporting the economic development mission for the County.

With that being said, the EDC has shown a tremendous return on investment for the County and makes the County money while its funding is only a very small portion of the overall budget (under 1%). The County funding also shows that we are committed to investing in ourselves and the County’s support of the EDC’s efforts which include leveraging other State and Federal money. This support of the GCEDC does not go unnoticed during the attraction process when potential companies are considering bringing investment into our community.

Marianne Clattenburg, incumbent, District 8: My position on this issue is well documented and on the record. This was my first budget vote as a new legislator and I took the opportunity to voice the concerns that many of my constituents have expressed regarding GCEDC funding.  Many opposed the salary and bonus structure of the organization. My position is that public employees who enjoy the benefits of a NYS retirement should not receive bonuses. The second reason I did not support the funding was that I wanted to send a strong message to the GCEDC that redevelopment must also become a priority of the organization. I represent the City of Batavia. We have needs and issues that are different than those of the rural towns around us. If the GCEDC is going to work as the county’s public benefit corporation dedicated to development, then it must strive to improve all areas of the county. I will dedicate my second term to working with the organization to see that this is done. My future support would be contingent upon the organization's willingness to work toward the goals of redevelopment, particularly in the City of Batavia.

William Fava, challenger, District 8: I would support a modification of the amount transferred from Genesee County to the GCEDC Agency. Originally, the agency needed the start up fund support, but now the agency has been successful in meeting yearly goals. The Agency has increased internal manpower to parallel anticipated growth and created sub organizations to minimize potential legal problems for Genesee County. In addition, the Agency continues to look forward (to) bringing in more business growth opportunities to the area…from all points of view, this State/County endeavor appears to be a success for the County. Modifications should be appropriate over the next few budget cycles to bring the annual fund down to a more reasonable amount. In doing this, the Agency can continue to document County support in any advertisement to a potential customer. The appearance of “Lack of County Support” has been mentioned many times during previous discussions concerning a decrease in funding…this is  simply a reduction, not an elimination of the fund. A modification would be a win-win solution for the Agency and the County taxpayer.

Ed deJaneiro, incumbent, District 9: It now appears that the GCEDC finances are strong enough to continue without a County contribution.

Bob Bialkowski, challenger, District 9: I am very prudent when it comes to spending tax dollars so I would insist on a complete accounting of this expenditure. The way the state has the EDCs set up is that if you want to participate you have to pay. This means that if the county doesn’t support the GCEDC we won’t be considered for the grants the EDC receives, so yes I would vote to continue this support. Genesee County has done very well for itself considering that in a recent survey New York State placed 49th in economic development out of 50, but here we have seen tremendous growth. Last week Texas announced that it was aggressively marketing for New York businesses to move there. They have no state tax. New York needs to learn to treat all business the same and discontinue making special deals.

Andrew Young, candidate, District 4: Yes, I support the County investing in its goal of creating jobs, promoting business capital investment (which converts to tax base) and keeping our kids in our community.

Frank Ferrando, incumbent, District 7: As you indicated, the $215,000, or an amount similar, has been transferred to the GCEDC for several years. It’s not new. What I believe was disturbing to most local citizens was the bonus pay model used by the GCEDC with the assumption that the subsidy supported the bonuses. I and two colleagues on the Legislature voted against last year’s budget in objection to that practice. Bonuses are no longer a part of the GCEDC’s compensation practice. This year I will vote for the subsidy if the GCEDC Board presents to the Legislature a detailed description of a specific project the subsidy will be used to support. A demonstration of support by the County is important and it represents about .1 percent of our overall budget.

More after the jump. Click on the headline to read more.

June 15, 2013 - 12:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics.

Press release:

After an interview process conducted by the Genesee County Democratic Committee three candidates were endorsed for the Genesee County Legislature.

Ed DeJaneiro is a five-term incumbent legislator representing District 9 in the City of Batavia and a former City Councilman. Ed works as a sales consultant for an area distributor. Bill Fava, an Iraq War veteran, Genesee Region Boy Scout leader and former City Councilman, is running in District 8 in the City of Batavia. Political newcomer, Earl Funderburk is the candidate endorsed in District 5 in Le Roy. Earl is an enterprise architect for Hewlett Packard and owns the historic Jell-O factory where he owns and operates a document management company called Upstate Document Management.

The committee is excited about the prospects of a successful campaign with three highly qualified candidates who bring a wealth of leadership in business, service to community and service to country. They look forward to engaging in the issues that effect Genesee County small businesses, working men and women, senior citizens and youth needs, infrastructure and job development as well as other key components of county government.

The committee also continues to accept candidate queries for the other districts in Genesee County. Please contact the Genesee County Committee at [email protected] as soon as possible as balloting time restraints are in place.

June 8, 2013 - 9:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, genesee county libertarian party.

"Liberty is local" was a recurring theme of speakers today at the inaugural convention of the Genesee County Libertarian Party.

Some 60 people gathered Homestead Event Center in the Batavia City Centre to ratify the party's charter and nominate the party's first two candidates for office.

Jim Rosenbeck and Lisa Whitehead will be on the November ballot as candidates for at-large seats on the Batavia City Council.

"The Genesee County Libertarian Party is going to represent trust, transparency and truth," said Phil Ricci, party chairman. "We're not going to tell you what to think. If you disagree with our position, we will try to educate you on why we believe what we believe. The Republicans and Democrats will tell you that we're on the fringe, but we will show people we're on the local level, we're here to represent you."

Guest speakers included Drew Beeman, Greater Rochester Libertarian Party chairman, attorney Paul Wolf (first inset), and Mark Axinn (second inset), chairman of the New York Libertarian Party.

Beeman congratulated the Genesee County Libertarians for coming together with an energy and numbers that is unique to the region.

His group represents all of the counties surrounding Rochester and he said he would welcome more counties breaking way and forming their own parties. It will take that kind of energy, he said, to reverse the trend statewide and in the nation to constrain individual liberty.

"Gary Johnson got 1 percent of the vote," Beeman said. "Are you going to have a Libertarian Party president anytime soon? Probably not. But we could have a Batavia City Council member. We could have a school board member. Liberty is local."

Picking up on Ricci's comment about the propaganda of the major parties to portray Libertarians as on the political fringe, Beeman noted that when you sit down and talk with people about their views of individual liberty, they actually believe what the Libertarian Party believes.

"The Libertarian Party is for people who don't want to push around others nor be pushed around themselves," Beeman said.

Wolf is an expert on reinventing government. He's registered as a Democrat, but Ricci said after reading his Web site, he told him, "No, you're a Libertarian."

There are three themes local Libertarian candidates can run on, Wolf said: That there is too much government, that there is wasteful spending and there is a culture of secrecy.

Wolf was critical of New York's layers of local governments -- villages within towns, authorities and agencies covering overlapping jurisdictions.

Mentioning a consultant's report in the City of Batavia that faulted local residents for having negative attitudes, Wolfe said, "Isn't it funny that the study said it's the attitude of citizens that's the problem. I think it's the attitude of politicians that's the problem."

On wasteful spending, he was critical of the Genesee County Economic Development Center's tax subsidies to COR Development for Dick's Sporting Goods, mocking the perception that the GCEDC board declared Dick's a tourist destination (the board didn't do that). He also questioned the $240,000 Steve Hyde, CEO of GCEDC, earned in 2012.

"This spending is not sustainable and it doesn't make sense," Wolf said.

Government likes to operate with as little transparency as possible, Wolf said. He said he did a study on three years of meeting minutes for his local City Council and found that the council went into secret session at every meeting it held during the three years. Those private sessions lasted an average of 60 minutes, while public sessions lasted an average 54 minutes.

"They're not used to being held accountable, not used to being questioned," Wolf said. "So what you're doing is important."

The message of individual liberty and smaller government appeals to most people, Axinn said, if they're used to pulling levers for Ds or Rs.

"Most people have a live and let live attitude and they need to realize that it works at the government level, too, if they will vote it in," Axinn said.

What is happening in Genesee County for the cause of liberty is important for the whole state, Axinn said.

"We're a small voice in a symphony of bigger government, but the truth is, we're a necessary voice and an important voice and thank you all for being that voice in Genesee County."

In running for City Council, Whitehead said she will hold true to her libertarian values, which includes promoting a business-friendly city and lowering taxes.

"We should be creating an environment that is friendly to business, not crushing it," she said.

"Shouldn't all people be entitled to keep the fruits of their labor," Whitehead said.

Rosenbeck said Libertarians are already making a difference in local politics. The issues have ranged from garbage collection to licensing landlords.

"You will remember, we spoke out to remove the City of Batavia from the garbage tote and trash collection business and they did just that," Rosenbeck said. "Guess what? The sky didn't fall. Somehow everyone's garbage got picked up this week. Freedom and choice is a good thing, my friend."

The Libertarian message opposing retail tax breaks has also resonated with local voters, Rosenbeck said.

"As elections approach in the fall, political insiders will attempt to frame us as a fringe movement," Rosenbeck said. "They will try to marginalize us and dismiss our message. They will patronize us and treat us as if we are just petulant little children. They won't take us seriously because for way too long, it has been all about duopoly. It has been all about two parties defining the message and providing the candidates, but remember we are the voice of reason. Our message resonates in our neighborhoods. We are here, we are engaged and we are on point. It's time to reject the status quo."

Phil Ricci

Jim Rosenbeck and Lisa Whitehead

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