Editor’s note: In a series of editorials, The Buffalo News is endorsing candidates for a number of offices. These endorsements by the editorial board are intended to aid voters in their evaluations of those seeking office. Whether you agree or disagree with our recommendations, we urge you to vote and take part in our electoral process. The Erie County Board of Elections (http://www.erieboe.com) has sample ballots and maps showing district boundaries.
Residents of the newly, if preposterously, drawn 60th Senate District have many reasons to re-elect Mark J. Grisanti, and his courageous vote to legalize same-sex marriage is only one of them.
Grisanti, a Democrat turned Republican, voted with his party members to enact a 2 percent cap on property taxes and create a new pension tier that will save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, and crafted a state takeover of future increases in Medicaid costs. That is only a start to what needs to happen for New York to shed its standing as the state with the worst business climate, but it’s a good start.
Grisanti also backed the UB 2020 plan, which morphed into SUNY 2020, and fought plans to slash state funding for Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
He faces two opponents, neither one ready for the job. Regarding Democrat Michael Amodeo, voters don’t even know what they would be getting, since he refuses to say whether he would caucus with the main Democratic bloc in the Senate or enlist in a breakaway group that frequently sides with Republicans. Voters have a right to know how he would perform in office.
Amodeo, who like Grisanti is a lawyer, says he is passionate about public service and performs a lot of volunteer work in his hometown of Hamburg. He supports an increase in the minimum wage, which we believe should be handled at the federal level to prevent New York from slipping further into the business-friendly subbasement.
The other candidate in the race is former Erie County Legislature Chairman Charles M. Swanick, who has variously been a Democrat, a Republican and a minor party candidate and is now running on the Conservative line after losing the Democratic primary to Amodeo.
Swanick, who says he would have voted against the same-sex marriage bill, has the line only because the Conservative Party is angry at Grisanti for reversing himself on a pledge to oppose the gay marriage bill.
There is, admittedly, a point here. When a candidate promises to vote one way during his election campaign, then changes his mind, there are bound to be repercussions. But this vote was not only a matter of conscience, but of civil rights. He risked his political career to do the right thing. The Conservative Party will have to get right with that fact or see its influence diminish in years to come.
The district and the state have done well with Grisanti in this seat. He has earned re-election, and his opponents offer no credible alternative.
Republican Sen. George D. Maziarz, first elected to the State Senate in 1995, has served his constituents effectively and should be returned to office.
His opponent, Amy Hope Witryol, has kept the senator, whose district now includes all of Niagara Falls, on his toes. She should continue to do so. However, it is impossible to ignore the strengths of a senior senator able to work across the aisle for his constituents.
Maziarz gets along with the Democratic governor, resulting in a working relationship that bodes well on large issues such as those involving the Seneca Nation. Also notable is his work, dating back to meetings in 2000, on the Niagara Falls International Airport. Maziarz worked diligently to ensure that a portion of Seneca Casino revenue money went to the development of a once-moribund airport.
Keeping companies here has also been a priority through his sponsorship of Recharge New York, a program that provides cheaper electricity to companies. He also sponsored the Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board legislation designed to get economic development funding flowing to local groups.
Witryol has called the Newfane Republican out on a number of issues, ranging from downtown Niagara Falls development to his stance on which companies deserve tax breaks to the integrity of those working in his office. But her criticisms are overshadowed by Maziarz’s record.
Saturday: U.S. Senate and county comptroller.