LOCKPORT – Johnny G. Destino called State Sen. George D. Maziarz “one of the most corrupt politicians in New York State” as Destino filed nominating petitions Thursday to run against him.
Destino, a Niagara Falls lawyer, was a Republican two years ago when he ran in a primary election against Maziarz, who defeated him with 69 percent of the vote. Destino subsequently switched parties and filed his petitions Thursday in Albany as a Democrat. But he isn’t Maziarz’s only opponent. Wednesday, Gia M. Arnold, of Holley filed petitions to try to force a GOP primary against Maziarz, R-Newfane, in the 62nd District, which covers all of Niagara and Orleans counties and part of western Monroe County.
Arnold also filed Conservative Party petitions, but Maziarz, who did not return a call seeking comment Thursday, has previously said he expects his relationship with state Conservative Chairman Michael R. Long to result in him being given the Conservative endorsement.
Arnold has emphasized gun rights, demanding repeal of the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act, the gun-control law that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo rushed through the State Legislature in January 2013. Maziarz voted against it, but Arnold has accused him of giving only “lip service” to the Second Amendment cause, a contention that Maziarz has strongly denied.
Destino, a Niagara Falls Board of Education member who ran unsuccessfully for mayor as a Republican in 2011, said the Moreland Commission, which Cuomo agreed to disband in a budget deal with the Legislature in March, was interested in Maziarz’s political spending.
According to a report in May by City and State, an Albany political magazine, the commission pointed the finger at Maziarz for having the most unexplained spending from his political account of any state lawmaker.
Maziarz, a 19-year incumbent, firmly controls the Niagara County GOP, Destino said. “He runs it like the Soviet Politburo,” Destino said. “If you disagree with him even once, you’re whitewashed.”
In other State Legislature districts that include parts of Niagara County, no one filed to oppose GOP Assembly members Jane L. Corwin of Clarence or John D. Ceretto of Lewiston. Assemblyman Raymond W. Walter, R-Amherst, has a Democratic opponent in Kenneth Smith, and Robin L. Schimminger, D-Kenmore, will have a GOP challenger in William J. Reece.
In county races, County Treasurer Kyle R. Andrews, D-Wilson, will be unopposed for re-election to the only countywide office being filled this year. Also unopposed are Town of Lockport Councilman Thomas J. Keough and Somerset Town Justice Donald P. Martineck.
Contested elections include Democrat Keith C. Ahlas against incumbent Republican William C. Conrad for Lewiston councilman; Democrat Daniel M. Johnson vs. Maziarz’s brother, Pendleton Town Justice Edmund P. Maziarz Jr.; Democrat Lee S. Wallace vs. the GOP’s Donald E. Schildhauer for Town of Niagara supervisor; and Democrat Anita Mullane vs. Republican Patrick T. Feeley for City of Lockport 2nd Ward alderman.
There are two GOP primaries for town clerk: Lewiston incumbent Donna R. Garfinkel against Regina C. Cecconi, and incumbent Barbara L. DuBell against Amanda M. Ripson in Porter.