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NEWS ENDORSES CANDIDATES FOR STATE ASSEMBLY IN DISTRICTS OUTSIDE ERIE COUNTY

SEVEN MEMBERS of the State Assembly represent residents of the seven Western New York counties outside Erie County. Each of these districts has an incumbent running for office, and four of those incumbents are so secure that no major-party opponents could be found for them. Here are News recommendations in the three contested districts.

District 138, Niagara: Pillittere

With 18 years in the Assembly, Joseph T. Pillittere, 64, a Democrat from Lewiston, has learned the Albany ropes. His seniority has translated into the chairmanship of the Committee on Tourism, Sports and Arts Development, a position of importance for a district that includes Niagara Falls and seven Niagara County towns. A chief interest for him is establishment of a gambling casino in Niagara Falls -- something he wholeheartedly supports.

Pillittere is a down-to-earth lawmaker with the common touch. Even so, the district would be well-served by the emergence of new blood. A strong challenger -- with new vigor and ideas -- would merit the nod over Pillittere.

However, Robert A. Daly, 36, a Niagara Falls Republican, does not fill that bill. His grasp of issues is often shallow. Daly, an account executive for an office-products distributor, says he wants local and state tax cuts and a push for economic development. He is much less enthusiastic about casinos than Pillittere, saying any in Niagara Falls must be tightly controlled and not compete with other businesses.

Overall, however, Daly offers voters insufficient reasons to change. We recommend Pillittere for yet another term.

District 139, Niagara, Orleans: Corica

The incumbent is David E. Seaman, 55, a Lockport attorney, who was the winner in a special election in 1995. He is a former assistant district attorney in Niagara County.

Seaman, a Republican, stresses job development and the continuation of tax reductions. He would cut the Albany bureaucracy, particularly in education, and push for reducing welfare benefits to match neighboring states. He favors freezing school property taxes and compensating with higher state aid to education. But Seaman is an unimaginative lawmaker, often vague on the issues and generally lacking spark.

The preference is for Democrat Richard C. Corica, 43, of Lockport, a team leader for a collection agency. He represents a Lockport district in the Niagara County Legislature and serves as the Legislature's Finance Committee chairman.

Corica describes himself as a champion of relieving local governments of state mandates. He wants an Albany budget process in which the Legislature and the governor establish common goals at the start. He is not an outstanding challenger, but he offers more vitality and more prospects for growth than Seaman. Under the circumstances, Corica deserves a chance.

District 150, Chautauqua: Parment

Democrat William L. Parment, 54, of North Harmony, first elected to the Assembly in 1982, has earned a reputation for integrity and trustworthiness in the years since.

Parment brings a farm background to the Democratic majority caucus, a place where that is rare. His fiscal conservatism, sound intellectual approach and knowledge of government are also valuable in the caucus. Parment is chairman of the Agriculture Committee, which gives him the ability to generate and influence farm legislation. He is quietly effective and merits re-election.

The Republican challenger is Robert J. Butcher, 66, of Forestville, a retired teacher and former Town of Sheridan assessor now serving as chairman of the Finance Committee of the Chautauqua County Legislature.

Butcher is a thoughtful, intelligent contender. He argues that the property tax has reached its limit as the way to finance local government and believes, ultimately, officials should look into replacing it with some other means.

There is, however, no reason to replace a talented and conscientious legislator like Parment.

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