With election '99 officially over and the new millennium just days away, there will be a changing of the guard in Erie County's Rath Building.
But before anyone focuses on the future, let's not be too quick to forget about the past. In particular, the accomplishments of Dennis Gorski and the legacy he and his family will leave us.
Gorski served as Erie County executive for 12 years. Prior to that, he was an Assemblyman and member of the Erie County Legislature.
His father, the late Chet Gorski, had an impressive 40-year career in public service, including serving as a congressman and Buffalo Common Council president. His brother, Jerome, is one of the most respected State Supreme Court justices. Together, the Gorskis have nearly a century of public service in this community. That's overwhelming and something we'll probably never see again.
And while the county executive may have followed in his father's public-service footsteps, he brought his own style of government to Erie County. A style that can be summed up three ways -- with dedication, honesty and hard work.
No one worked harder at his job than Gorski did, nor was anyone as dedicated to the community as he was. And certainly, judging from the record of his tenure in County Hall, no one ran an administration as efficiently and cleanly as he did.
Yes, there were some bumps in the road along the way, but he was still able to meet, greet and help hundreds of thousands of residents in this community. His five kids may have missed some quality time with their father because of this, but Gorski is a firm believer in improving their quality of life in Western New York.
It's safe to say that government in Erie County and New York State is better off thanks to the Gorski administration. After all, he inherited a fiscal nightmare and is leaving with what has been recognized as one of the most stable, fiscally sound governments in this nation. That says a lot. First, about the quality of his administration and second, about the tough decisions he made along the way.
His administration has county government running on four simple but important principles: less government, lower taxes, job creation and regional cooperation. By cutting bureaucracy, welfare and taxes, reducing debt and creating jobs, Gorski developed a solid blueprint for the 21st century. And when you add that to the dividends of his $548 million settlement from the tobacco lawsuit, this community is well prepared for 2000 and beyond.
But, as they say, all good things must come to an end. Was he a victim of his own success? Probably. During Gorski's tenure, he became a comfort zone for the public.
One of his biggest accomplishments is still in the blueprint stage. However, when local officials assemble downtown in the coming years to break ground and eventually cut the ribbon on this facility, they should honor him and dedicate it as the "Dennis T. Gorski Convention Center."
After all, he has been the champion for the new convention center, which will serve as a link to our past and a catalyst for our future. Much like the Gorski legacy.
MICHAEL P. HUGHES is director of communications for Erie County.
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