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Legislative seats contested in five Falls districts Four seek re-election

Four incumbent county legislators will face challenges Tuesday in city districts, while three candidates will vie for an open seat.

1st District: Jason J. Murgia, the incumbent Democrat who caucuses with the Republican-led majority, will face Richard A. Marasco, a Republican who recently changed his affiliation to the Democratic Party.

Marasco, 57, of Vanderbilt Avenue, has been a social studies teacher for 17 years. Before that, he operated a family-owned meat market and worked as a machinist while in college.

The Industrial Development Agency's decision to give a tax break to AES Corp. in Somerset is "far away the No. 1" reason he is running.

"I would like the IDA chairman to come to the floor of the Legislature and explain the decision of the IDA board to grant the tax relief that they did with AES," Marasco said.

Marasco said he would work to bring Niagara County Community College's proposed culinary arts institute to Niagara Falls and would hold regular meetings with city leaders.

Murgia, 35, of Main Street, is the 21st Century Community Learning Center grants coordinator for the Niagara Falls School District and owner of Orchard Grill. He has served three years in the Legislature.

His first priority is to "get a better handle on our taxes." He also said he supports the county's plan to use low-cost power for county buildings and for economic development incentives.

Murgia also wants the culinary institute to open in the city.

"I've been intimately involved in that process from Day One," Murgia said.

2nd District: Renae Kimble, the Democrat incumbent, will face Candace Corsaro, a Democrat running on the Republican line.

Kimble, 53, of Hyde Park Boulevard, has been a legislator for nearly 14 years. She says she wants Niagara County to have greater control over the Niagara Falls International Airport.

"We need to take ownership of it because it is an economic catalyst for the entire Western New York region," Kimble said.

Kimble also would work to clean up brownfields and to hold the State Power Authority accountable for low-cost power.

Corsaro, 58, of North Avenue, is a real estate agent and the founder of the North End Block Club. She says she wants to stop taxes and utility fees from rising. Corsaro also promised to hold quarterly meetings with city leaders and to focus on improving public safety throughout the 2nd District.

"The County Legislature has to step in and help Niagara Falls more than they have done," Corsaro said.
3rd District: Three candidates are running for the seat being vacated by Rebecca E. Cuddahee.

Jason J. Cafarella, 28, a Democrat of Forest Avenue, is a city firefighter and a part-time attorney. He said he wants elected officials in the city to speak with a unified voice.

"Until we're able to run on one message, instead of competing messages and agendas, I don't think we're going to be able to change too much," Cafarella said.

He also said he wants to increase the city's share of federal homeland security funds and increase the amount of county services the city receives.

Randy S. Ubriaco, 48, a Republican of 15th Street, is a financial planner and a member of the city's Tourism Advisory Board. As a legislator, he said he would help city leaders develop a plan to set priorities for spending casino revenue.

He said he would insist that the airport be marketed better and would focus on tourism.

"For too long, we haven't catered to tourists," Ubriaco said.

Mario P. Tonellato, 39, a Democrat of Byrd Avenue, will appear on the Working Families Party's ballot line. He ran the city's Youth Bureau until his position was eliminated earlier this year.

He said he plans to focus on reducing the city's unemployment level, including enticing businesses to build on brownfields and shovel-ready sites. He also said he would like to reduce the tax rate.

"If we can create positive development within Niagara County, that in turn translates to tax dollars," he said.

4th District: Dennis Virtuoso, the incumbent Democrat, will face Joseph S. Urso, a Republican.

Urso, 54, of Niagara Avenue, worked for 23 years as a cooperative extension educator for Niagara County. He later worked as the city's forester until the position was eliminated.

If elected, Urso said he would follow a 10-point plan focusing on reforming the Legislature, lowering taxes and fighting for giving city residents the state's share of casino revenues as a cash rebate.

"I think the residents got short-changed on the deal with the casino," Urso said.

Virtuoso, 55, of Independence Avenue, is running for his ninth term. He has worked in the city's Inspections Department for 20 years.

Virtuoso said his top priority would be reducing taxes. He also said he wants to reform the IDA in the wake of its AES Corp. decision and wants the county to be included in the project to expand the airport.

"I want to make sure that they're doing it the right way, because it's going to be there for the next 30 or 40 years," he said.

5th District: Sean J. O'Connor, a longtime Democratic legislator, will face William C. Caso Jr., a Republican.

Caso, 43, of 101 Street, is a 20-year police officer.

He said his experience as a union negotiator would be an asset to the Legislature.

Caso also said he would focus on Legislature attendance, reducing the size of the Legislature and getting more money from the state to reduce Medicaid costs.

"They're forcing us to cover it," he said. "We can't afford it."

O'Connor, 49, of Brandi Drive, is executive vice president of Niagara Majestic Tours. He has been in the Legislature for 22 years and previously served as chairman.

O'Connor said his top priority would be getting more money to complete the restoration of Cayuga Creek. He also said he wants the county to continue its job creation and retention program and will ask the state for relief from costly mandates.

O'Connor touted his efforts on behalf of facilities in the LaSalle area.

"I'm committed to working hard to keep our library open, keeping the nutrition site open," O'Connor said.

Coming Sunday in Niagara Weekend: More election coverage, including two cover stories focused on key issues.

e-mail: djewell@buffnews.com

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