It’s a Lancaster businessman with not a minute of political experience versus a man with decades of history on the local political scene and name recognition to boot in the race for the 143rd Assembly District.
But Republican challenger Frank M. DeCarlo or Democratic Assemblyman Dennis H. Gabryszak both agree: They wouldn’t have it any other way.
Gabryszak, 60, a Sloan native and son of a village mayor, has spent his life in public service, first as a village trustee in Depew, then as a longtime town supervisor in Cheektowaga who went onto Albany six years ago and assumed the seat held for years by former Assemblyman Paul A. Tokasz.
Now, Gabryszak seeks a fourth-term in the Assembly to continue what he says is a state government that is finally headed in the right direction.
“I think it’s much less dysfunctional that it was,” said Gabryszak, who points to his own efforts to reach across the aisle to promote bipartisan cooperation and also credits Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo with creating “an atmosphere of working together” in state government.
He said one of his proudest accomplishments was working with State Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane, on the proceeds bill two years ago.
When fully implemented, that legislation will pump $10 million to 13 million per year into Western New York for economic development by redirecting proceeds from the sale of unused hydropower by the New York Power Authority.
“From an economic development front, we’re going to see positive things come out of that in the future,” he said, noting it will advance job creation and retention, and infrastructure improvements, and also promote business expansion and help keep existing companies and lure other industry here.
DeCarlo, 65, a small-business owner for four decades, isn’t nearly as bullish on state government’s ability to help business. The president of the 20-year-old Paragon Restoration Group in Depew cites what he describes as the state’s penchant for spending, taxing and shackling businesses with unnecessary regulation.
DeCarlo believes that businessmen are now taking it upon themselves to run for office, fix what’s wrong and return to their regular work. “Just take a look around you and see the shattered economy around Western New York,” he said. “If I ran my business like New York State, I’d be out of business.”
DeCarlo vilified state lawmakers for gross tax-and-spend policies that he said provide “designer sunglasses” and “limousine and cab rides back and forth from the hospital” to Medicaid patients while at the same time padding their own coffers and those of state employees.
DeCarlo, an Olean native who has lived much of his life in Depew and Lancaster and is a Vietnam-era Navy veteran, chided Gabryszak for failing on his promises to stand up to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, and questioned his opponent’s effectiveness in his six-year tenure.
What’s the chief difference between Gabryszak and him?
“One word: results,” said DeCarlo, who called the assemblyman a “nice guy” who has failed to deliver much more than a few “senior citizen vans” and “electronics drop-off” days.
Gabryszak said he never heard of DeCarlo but expects to meet him for the first time at the Taxpayers’ Candidates Night event at 7 p.m. today in Maryvale Primary School.
Besides his success on the proceeds bill, Gabryszak also pointed to several other accomplishments on his record in the Assembly, including a four-year effort to get strangulation designated as a felony in the state’s penal code in domestic violence cases as well as an equitable share of state transportation funds for the area.
A mistake in the funding formula by the state Department of Transportation resulted in a $166 million loss in funds for bridges, roads and highways in Western New York. Gabryszak said he worked with Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy, D-Buffalo, to get assurances from the DOT that those funds would be restored for the area.
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