According to those who have worked with her over the years, Lynn M. Marinelli’s extensive background in public service and her proficiency at delivering high-quality constituent service, make her ideally suited to take on her new duties at Empire State Development Corp.
Until she resigned her elected seat Wednesday, Marinelli was the longest-tenured member of the current Erie County Legislature. She represented the Third Legislative District for 17 years and was the first chairwoman of the Legislature.
“She actually succeeded me in the Legislature,” said Leonard R. Lenihan, former chairman of the Legislature and the county Democratic Committee.
“I think Lynn is well-qualified for her new position. She’s a quick learner, enthusiastic and well-versed in dealing with a variety of issues, and is adept at taking a leadership role in many of them.”
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office announced Wednesday that Marinelli will be serving as director of intergovernmental relations at the Western New York Office of Empire State Development. She will make $70,000 in the post, compared with the $42,588 annual salary currently earned by county lawmakers.
“It’s been a true honor and privilege to represent North Buffalo and the Town of Tonawanda in the County Legislature since 1997,” Marinelli said Wednesday.
“It’s an even greater honor, thanks to the confidence of Gov. Cuomo, to now serve the residents of our broader region, particularly with so many exciting projects under way in Buffalo and Western New York.”
Cuomo said, “As we continue to transform Western New York and create new economic opportunities for the region with major initiatives like the Buffalo Billion, I am pleased to welcome Lynn Marinelli to our team.”
Two weeks ago, following Marinelli’s re-election in November, the Town of Tonawanda Democrat started her ninth full term.
Legislature Minority Leader Betty Jean Grant, D-Buffalo, has worked well with Marinelli since she joined the Legislature in 2007. “Her historical knowledge of the Legislature and its proceedings are going to be sorely missed,” Grant said.
Marinelli looks back fondly on her time in the Legislature as she also looks forward to the challenges of her new position.
“I will certainly miss aspects of serving as the Third District legislator, but now I get to serve the governor and a broader base of constituents in the area of economic development, particularly with so many exciting projects under way in Western New York,” Marinelli said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
Marinelli’s resignation leaves a seat open in the Legislature, which will have to be filled following a meeting of the Third District Democratic Committee.
“They will make an endorsement, and that person will be appointed to the seat and then have to run for the seat, the same way I did in 1996,” Marinelli said.
John J. Crangle, chairman of the Town of Tonawanda Democratic Committee, said that while there are no front-runners to replace Marinelli, her successor is going to have to be adept at serving a diverse constituency, which includes not only North Buffalo and the Town of Tonawanda, but a portion of the city’s Lower West Side, as well as the Black Rock and Riverside neighborhoods.
“He or she has to be good at promoting both communities,” Crangle said, citing the district’s city and suburban makeup.
That was an art that Marinelli mastered, according to those who have worked with her. In addition to being the first Legislature chairwoman, she served as majority leader and more recently was chairwoman of the Community Enrichment Committee, whose responsibilities include oversight of Erie Community College.
In addition to her career as a county legislator, Marinelli has served on several community boards. She began her professional career writing for United Press International and coordinating public relations for the Buffalo Bisons. She also served as executive director for the county’s Women’s Commission.
In her new post, Marinelli, 51, will be working under Sam Hoyt, the former assemblyman who serves as regional president of Empire State Development.
“I worked with Sam during our Bisons days, back in the 1980s, and from 1986 to 1992, I worked for Sam’s dad, Bill Hoyt, when he was in the Assembly. At the time, Mario Cuomo was governor. So I feel like I’ve come full circle,” Marinelli said.
Her new post will take her across the eight counties of Western New York, where she will be facilitating discussions on economic development, helping to shape the agenda on current and future projects and implementing state initiatives, as well as monitoring economic development-related legislation.