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LEGISLATURE CANDIDATES DISCUSS REGIONALISM, FINANCING LEASE WITH BILLS

1st District EDWARD J. KUWIK, 54, (D, C, I, T)
Experience: Fifteen years of legislative experience; served as County Legislature majority leader and currently is Public Safety Committee chairman; served as mayor of Lackawanna, an engineer and a teacher. Blasdell resident.

Issues: Says priorities include reducing property taxes through regionalism and municipal cooperation.

Stadium tax: Does not support proposed "sin" tax or use of property taxes to fund local impact of the Buffalo Bills lease; will evaluate the Greater Buffalo Partnership study on local funding options.

Regionalization: Regionalism efforts must result in real property tax relief; will continue to work with county municipalities for consolidation.

TIMOTHY R. STRAUBE, 39, (R, F)
Experience: Ten years experience in the accounting and tax field; four years on the Hamburg Town Republican Committee. Hamburg resident.

Issues: Finding an alternative funding source for the Bills lease; reducing property taxes; safety; the Seaway Trail and road maintenance.

Stadium tax: Would not support any kind of new tax; would support the lease and lease-back proposal put forth by Comptroller Nancy Naples for Rich Stadium to lease the stadium to an investors' group for approximately $200 million, collecting the money up front and immediately leasing the arena back for $190 million, netting the County $10 million, which would pay for the new lease without raising taxes.

Regionalization: Supports any service consolidation -- police, roads, parks and the like -- as long as it makes government more cost effective to help drive down taxes and does not interfere with or eliminate local town and village governments.

2nd District MICHAEL A. FITZPATRICK, 59, (D, C)
Experience: Almost 20 years experience in county government; chairman of the Legislature's Economic Development Committee. Buffalo resident.

Issues: Creating good paying jobs so young people are not forced to leave Western New York; believes area needs to become more competitive on a national level and says property tax stabilization is an important first step in that effort.

Stadium tax: Will reserve judgment until after reviewing a study being done by the Greater Buffalo Partnership of local-funding options to meet the county's obligation under the Bills lease; surcharge on cigarettes should be considered.

Regionalization: Supports service consolidation to assist Buffalo; points out that the Legislature is negotiating several regionalism efforts with the city; says he believes several city-parks related functions could be consolidated with Erie County.

WILLIAM A. NICHOLAS, 32, (R, I, F)
Experience: District manager with Automatic Data Processing; worked in the Buffalo Planning Department in business/management; was a union steward for UPS Local 449. Buffalo resident.

Issues: Control and stabilize county property taxes; more efficient delivery of services; regional and intermunicipal cooperation, especially in planning major projects, employment stimulation; says county should focus on regional policies to enhance the central city, tackle urban blight at the city's edge, and control suburban and rural growth.

Stadium tax: Does not support a new tax for the stadium lease; believes county has sufficient resources to meet its obligation for the Bills lease.

Regionalization: Supports consolidation of county services for parks and golf courses, new senior van services, youth and substance-abuse programs.

3 rd District GEORGE A. HOLT, 49, (D, I, L)
Holt is unopposed for re-election.

4th district JUDITH P. FISHER, 52, (D, I, L)
Experience: Member of the Legislature for two years; chairman of the Health-Mental Health Committee; member of the Social Service and Community Enrichment committees; 15-year member of the Buffalo Board of Education and a former teacher. Buffalo resident.

Issues: Says most important issue is regional stabilization, which is best achieved by reducing the level of government and helping Buffalo become a viable healthy city; calls for expanded youth services after school and during the summer, property tax stabilization, creation of a regional planning board and the retention of the Erie County Medical Center as a premier public hospital.

Stadium tax: Says keeping the Bills in Western New York is important but finds little support for sin tax; need to look at funding options for the annual lease obligation; will give careful consideration to any suggestion that does not impose unnecessary tax.

Regionalization: Notes these possibilities for governmental consolidation: youth services, parks and road maintenance and senior services.

PEDRO VELEZ-LOPEZ, 30, (R, C, F)
Experience: For the past seven years, a volunteer with various community groups; owned a cleaning company; worked for Erie County Family Court, Erie County Board of Elections and area factories. Buffalo resident.

Issues: Says priorities are cutting taxes to stimulate business growth and keep families in the county, and sharing the extra 1 percent sales tax with Buffalo.

Stadium tax: Supports the lease and lease-back proposal put forth by Comptroller Nancy Naples for Rich Stadium, which would entail leasing the stadium to an investors' group for approximately $200 million, collecting the money up front and immediately leasing the arena back for $190 million, netting the county $10 million, which would pay for the new lease without raising taxes.Regionalization: Supports city and county consolidation of services that saves the taxpayers money.

5th district GREGORY B. OLMA, 37, (D, C, I, L)
Experience: Full-time county legislator; more than eight years as legislative assistant to David A. Franczyk, Fillmore Common Council member; two terms in Erie County Legislature; member of housing agencies and community groups and community activist. Buffalo resident.

Issues: Reforming the Erie County Water Authority; full disclosure of Bills lease deal; protecting farm land and green space from overdevelopment; exploring regional solutions.

Stadium tax: Does not support sin tax or any new taxes to pay for Bills lease; says costs should come from county surplus funds.

Regionalization: Believes county should lead in consolidation and seek to provide more services to municipalities to lessen duplication; says county also should look at consolidating highways, vital statistics, purchasing and policing.

JANICE L. KOWALSKI-KELLY, 40, (R, F)
Experience: Home day-care provider; Cheektowaga Central School Board trustee; chairwoman of the Cheektowaga Republican Party; worked in the legislative and executive branches of county government. Buffalo resident.

Issues: Taxes, increased police presence and absentee landlords.

Stadium tax: Will not support any new taxes; endorses lease and lease-back proposal put forth by Comptroller Nancy Naples for Rich Stadium, which would entail leasing the stadium to an investors' group for approximately $200 million, collecting the money up front and immediately leasing the arena back for $190 million, netting the county $10 million, which would pay for the lease without new taxes.

Regionalization: Says she would have to get advice from constituents before supporting consolidation.
65h district ALBERT DeBENEDETTI, 49, (D, C, I)
DeBenedetti is unopposed for re-election.

7th district CRYSTAL D. PEOPLES, 45, (D, I, L)
Peoples is unopposed for re-election.

8th district RAYMOND K. DUSZA, 62, (D, C, I, T)
Experience: Full-time county legislator since 1989; was president of International Union of Electrical Workers Local 1581, AFL-CIO, while employed at Westinghouse. Cheektowaga resident.

Issues: Consumer protection, including expansion of the item pricing scanner accuracy law; reducing the tax burden to stimulate job growth.

Stadium tax: Says Erie County must keep the Bills without raising property taxes; does not support the original concept of the proposed sin tax; wants to review the various funding options recommended by the Greater Buffalo Partnership.

Regionalization: Believes property tax stabilization is fundamental to regionalism; says the Legislature is working with Buffalo on consolidation, including youth services, road maintenance, housing demolitions, recycling and repurchasing.

DANIEL F. KRAWCZYK, 42, (R)
Experience: Experience in high technology resources, business operations and implementation. Cheektowaga resident.

Issues: The capacity for elected representatives to independently serve the needs of a community in a creative, well planned, responsible manner without the encroachment of political special interests; says county needs to find a way to end stifling taxes that are stunting growth; wants to build regional leadership to foster job expansion; points to the need for capital investment, tourism and job training.

Stadium tax: Does not support a new tax; says voters should be allowed to vote on any new tax for the stadium; says county should study the lease and lease-back proposal put forth by Comptroller Nancy Naples for Rich Stadium, which would entail leasing the stadium to an investors' group for approximately $200 million, collecting the money up front and immediately leasing the arena back for $190 million, netting the county $10 million, which would pay for the new lease without raising taxes.

Regionalization: Says purchasing, infrastructure management, clerk operations, education and refuse collection could be consolidated.

9th district JOHN W. GREENAN, 28, (R, C, I, T, F)
Experience: Erie County legislator since 1995; legislative assistant from 1993 to 1995. West Seneca resident.

Issues: Cutting taxes to stop the exodus of people and good quality jobs. says taxes are devastating senior population; also must do more about the poor condition of many county roads.

Stadium tax: Does not support new tax; says county needs to explore innovative funding proposals such as lease and lease-back proposal put forth by Comptroller Nancy Naples for Rich Stadium, which would entail leasing the stadium to an investors' group for approximately $200 million, collecting the money up front and immediately leasing the arena back for $190 million, netting the county $10 million, which would pay for the new lease without raising taxes.

Regionalization: Should start with basic services such as personnel, purchasing and sewer districts; savings could be realized through sharing of services.

KATHLEEN HIGGINS-GREELEY, 41, (D, Tax)
Experience: More than 15 years of professional experience working in Family Court. West Seneca resident.

Issues: Will work to reduce property taxes; need to make Erie County leader in business development.

Stadium tax: Opposes sin tax; will review the Greater Buffalo Partnership study before committing to a funding source; opposes use of any tobacco settlement money and feels that should reimburse property tax payers for smoking-related Medicaid costs; believes annual budget surpluses are unpredictable and unreliable over the term of the lease.

Regionalization: Will work with town officials in West Seneca and Elma to develop specific regionalism efforts; believes cutting property taxes is essential to the work.

10th district CHARLES M. SWANICK, 48, (D, C, I)
Experience: Erie County legislator since 1980; Legislature chairman since May 1995; locomotive engineer for Conrail, currently on leave. Kenmore resident.

Issues: New Bills lease; promotion of regionalism in Erie County; enhancement of economic development; continued viability of Erie Community College; continued repair and improvement of roads and bridges; and meaningful welfare reform.

Stadium tax: Says county must look for the most logical funding mechanism with the assistance of Western New York's business community through the Greater Buffalo Partnership.

Regionalization: All consolidation efforts can and must result in real property tax relief for local homeowners and businesses.

JERRY F. REITER, 40, (R, T, F)
Experience: Sales representative; formerly a broadcaster and radio reporter; involved with the Chamber of Commerce and Grand Island Business Council; Grand Island Committeeman. Grand Island resident.

Issues: tax reduction to help residents and draw new business while stopping exodus from the region.

Stadium tax: Does not support a new tax for Bills lease; supports lease and lease-back proposal put forth by Comptroller Nancy Naples for Rich Stadium, which would entail leasing the stadium to an investors' group for approximately $200 million, collecting the money up front and immediately leasing the arena back for $190 million, netting the county $10 million, which would pay for the new lease without raising taxes; believes county needs to cut spending; would use part of the savings from reduced spending to support the Bills lease if necessary.

Regionalization: Opposes regional government, but supports cooperation among local governments; says regionalization would result in the transfer of wealth from the suburbs to the city, and "an opportunity for the county leadership to grab more power after already making county residents the highest-taxed people in America."

11th District LYNN M. MARINELLI, 35, (D, L)
Experience: Full-time county legislator; points to repaving of Kenmore Avenue, adoption of a law making all libraries in Erie County drug-free zones, park improvement in Ellicott Creek Park and the creation of a domestic violence employee assistance program as high points of her tenure in Legislature. Buffalo resident.

Issues: Says a major issue is job creation; considers it vital that county finds a way to provide good level of services while holding the line on taxes; says county needs to change the way it does business.

Stadium tax: Not prepared to support sin tax; believes the estimated $4 million to $6 million revenue shortfall from new lease could be plugged by using revenues such as the monies due Erie County for the settlement of the tobacco lawsuit and through administrative cost savings.

Regionalization: Believes consolidating services can be accomplished only when different levels of government cooperate; says she will make sure any consolidation proposal is not a matter of cost-shifting.

CINDY VASTOLA, 43, (R, C, I, F)
Experience: Eight years experience and chief financial officer of Vastola Heating and Air Conditioning; past vice chairwoman of executive committee and board of directors of Greater Buffalo Partnership; past chairwoman of Partnership's Small Business Council; board of directors Ken-Ton Friends of
Youth; vice president of Cerebral Palsy Foundation of Western New York, appointed member of area delegation to the Women's State Economic Summit. Buffalo resident.

Issues: Cutting property taxes with welfare reform and by enacting true budget reforms; hiring more county sheriffs and district attorneys to put criminals behind bars; working to ensure safety of roads and bridges, maintaining support of senior citizens real property tax exemption.

Stadium tax: Does not believe new tax is necessary; recommends pursuing lease and lease-back proposal put forth by Comptroller Nancy Naples for Rich Stadium, which would entail leasing the stadium to an investors' group for approximately $200 million, collecting the money up front and immediately leasing the arena back for $190 million, netting the county $10 million, which would pay for the new lease without raising taxes.

Regionalization: Believes county should form a regional municipal joint purchasing group that would negotiate larger purchasing contracts for items such as computers, office supplies and public works equipment; also should create joint business attraction and tourism efforts and should consider combining local industrial development agencies.

12 district JEANNE Z. CHASE, 32, (R, I, F)
Experience: County legislator; formerly a real estate agent. Derby resident.

Issues: Need to create a culture in county government that strives to be more efficient, productive and accountable; need to improve service delivery.

Stadium tax: Does not support new tax; says in a $1 billion budget, county should be able to find sufficient surplus to fund this requirement; failing that, county should look at everything it does for necessary revenue, from savings in other departments to innovative measures such as the lease and lease-back proposal put forth by Comptroller Nancy Naples for Rich Stadium, which would entail leasing the stadium to an investors' group for approximately $200 million, collecting the money up front and immediately leasing the arena back for $190 million, netting the county $10 million, which would pay for the new lease without raising taxes.

Regionalization: Would consider any proposal that maintained or improved service levels and reduced the burden on taxpayers.

FRANCIS J. PORDUM, 51, (D, C)
Experience: Formerly assemblyman for 14 years; former county legislator. Derby resident.

Issues: The same concerns and issues that are important to his constituents.

Stadium tax: Believes taxes to fund the new Bills lease are premature; reserves judgment until he sees report from Greater Buffalo Partnership and other county committees on possible solutions; says he would be opposed to the use of property tax revenues for a lease agreement.

Regionalization: Supports consolidation of local industrial development agencies into a regional agency to promote economic development and generate good- paying jobs; calls for a regional approach to job development; supports regional park system, a regional public works department and any program that would take advantage of scale purchases and equipment use.

13th district FREDERICK J. MARSHALL, 46, (R, C, I, F)
Marshall is unopposed for re-election.

14th district WILLIAM A. PAULY, 57, (R, C, I, T)
Experience: County legislator since 1975; 10 years as a teacher and counselor in Buffalo Public Schools; currently an adjunct faculty member at Medaille College; coordinator of Clean Communities of Western New York. Amherst resident.

Issues: Financing reform, such as the Government Efficiency Act he sponsored, which converts a portion of the current tax to incentive-based revenue sharing that would reward local governments for reducing spending.

Stadium tax: Opposes new tax to support the lease; says the cost can be covered by surplus accounts.

Regionalization: Says a unified parks system and regional management of road maintenance could be successful consolidation efforts; calls for county to examine the creation of a single incarceration service with the county holding center and county penitentiary being funded and administered privately.

DENNIS E. WARD, 46, (D, TRP)
Experience: Attorney; member Bar Association of Erie County; Erie County Bar Foundation; Legal Aid Bureau; KIDS Voting Steering Committee. Amherst resident.

Issues: Campaign reform of special interest, political action committee and corporate contributions; welfare reform with real work alternatives; revamping child-support collections and term limits for county elected officials.

Stadium tax: Does not support new tax; says county share of any new lease deal should be made up by surcharges on tickets, parking and stadium vendors.

Regionalization: Calls for consolidating services involving vital statistics, tax collection and foreclosure proceedings; wants to centralize economic development under a single industrial development agency.
15th district RANDI COHEN KENNEDY, 38, (D, C, TRP)
Experience: Member of County Legislature since 1995 and a practicing attorney in Erie County Family Court since 1987; chairwoman of the Enrichment Committee and member of Public Safety Committee. Williamsville resident.

Issues: Property tax stabilization; fostering employment opportunity; developing countywide planning policies to balance urban and suburban growth; continuing public safety initiatives -- both preventive and corrective; advocating public health; promoting shared governmental services.

Stadium tax: Does not support sin tax; wants time to study Greater Buffalo Partnership recommendations; would rather see use of a revenue source such as the growth of the sales tax.

Regionalization: Wants to see consolidation in parks and recreation, purchasing, hiring and training of public employees; says service-sharing efforts will allow for a relief in property taxes; supports county plan to freeze property tax for three years, but municipalities and school districts also need to stabilize taxes to stimulate growth.

BARRY A. WEINSTEIN, 53, (R, F)
Experience: Doctor; community volunteer for more than 20 years; elected five times to the Williamsville School Board. Williamsville resident.

Issues: Says major issue is the economy and the need for effective regional economic planning; calls for a plan to create and attract jobs; believes county must reduce costs while maintaining services.

Stadium tax: Will not support new tax; says sin tax is unlikely to generate additional revenue; would look carefully at County Comptroller Nancy Naples' lease and lease-back proposal for Rich Stadium, which would entail leasing the stadium to an investors' group for approximately $200 million, collecting the money up front and immediately leasing the arena back for $190 million, netting the county $10 million, which would pay for new lease without raising taxes.

Regionalization: Says decisions must be made at local, not county, level. The county, however, should take the lead in promoting cooperation.

16yh district MICHAEL H. RANZENHOFER, 43, (R, C, F)
Experience: Member of County Legislature since 1989; ranking Republican member of Finance and Economic Development committees; attorney. Amherst resident.

Issues: Reduction of property taxes and government reform; supports reductions in spending; wants welfare reform at the county level, tougher laws on criminals and greater funding for road repairs.

Stadium tax: Does not support new tax to fund Buffalo Bills lease; supports lease and lease-back proposal put forth by Comptroller Nancy Naples for Rich Stadium, which would entail leasing the stadium to an investors' group for approximately $200 million, collecting the money up front and immediately leasing the arena back for $190 million, netting the county $10 million, which would pay for the new lease without raising taxes.

Regionalization: Would consolidate purchasing of materials, supplies and equipment; personnel and training; regional planning; law and court functions; park functions; youth services; senior transportation; and substance-abuse services.

BARBARA A. GUIDA, 50, (D, I)
Experience: Owner of small business. Clarence resident.

Issues: Property tax stabilization; lower taxes and better services; concerned about future of small business in Western New York; says area needs to create a business friendly environment for new and existing companies, which will create better paying jobs.

Stadium tax: Does not believe new tax is needed for Buffalo Bills lease; says county surpluses and the proceeds from the tobacco settlement are two possible funding sources.

Regionalization: Wants to work with municipal leaders to identify efficient service consolidation; property tax stabilization must be key component of regionalization; need to develop municipal cooperation agreements for service sharing to keep taxes low.

17th District DALE W. LARSON, 36, (R, C, I, T, F)
Experience: Erie County legislator; former senior financial consultant for Empire FSB; served as office manager for State Sen. John B. Sheffer II; member of Legislature's Finance and Management, Public Safety and Community Enrichment committees. Depew resident.Issues: Taxes. Says county can expand the tax base, enhancing job creation and economic opportunity; also need to bring in outside tax dollars through tourism; welfare reform.

Stadium tax: Does not support any new tax, but says county should look at alternatives, including a statewide sports lottery, the use of any tobacco-settlement money and the lease and lease-back proposal put forth by Comptroller Nancy Naples for Rich Stadium, which would entail leasing the stadium to an investors' group for approximately $200 million, collecting the money up front and immediately leasing the arena back for $190 million, netting the county $10 million, which would pay for the new lease without raising taxes.

Regionalization: Believes communities need to develop a regional thought process that embraces the county as a whole community; supports consolidating such services as parks, the social services safety net and purchasing.

JOHN F. DONOGHER, 39, (D)
Experience: Attorney and senior counsel to a local corporation; experience in negotiating business and commercial transactions. Lancaster resident.

Issues: Regional planning on a countywide basis, spearheaded by meetings of town highway superintendents to review road and bridge repair needs and coordination of strategies to handle them; supports meetings of town budget directors to review budgetary considerations, particularly any duplication of funding and services.

Stadium tax: Supports sin tax as the least intrusive means to finance stadium lease requirements; believes raising property taxes is not the answer; says proposals to use tobacco litigation proceeds that might not materialize or to use a sports lottery are disingenuous.

Regionalization: Cooperation between municipalities and regional planning on issues such as road and bridge repair, social services, police services and the like is imperative; municipalities should not duplicate services; cooperation will result in more efficient government and services.

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