Following are our endorsements for election to the Erie County Legislature in Districts 1 through 9. As with our recommendations for September's primary elections, our endorsements were guided by the candidates' commitment, understanding of the issues and their determination to move the county forward, especially in terms of how they view their roles in light of the demand for change voters made two years ago in electing Joel Giambra as county executive.
Incumbent Raymond Dusza, D-8th District, is running unopposed, as is Mark Schroeder, who won the Democratic nomination to succeed the retiring Michael Fitzpatrick in the 2nd District. The News will give its endorsements for Districts 10 to 17 Tuesday.
1st District: Richard A. Rydza
Edward J. Kuwik has occupied this legislative seat for 18 years without showing any sign of understanding that county government has been part of the problem in Western New York's decline. Voters who believe no change is necessary in this struggling county could do no better than to cast a vote for him. > Those who believe Erie County needs a Legislature committed to improving the county can vote for Richard A. Rydza, a Buffalo native who wants to advance Giambra's initiatives on regionalism while applying stricter standards of responsibility and accountability to county government. Rydza also has developed well-considered positions on job creation, a county marketing plan and waterfront development.
Rydza, site safety manager for O'Connell Electric Co. at its General Motors project, says he is committed to supporting Giambra's policies, generally a good idea, given the county's condition. But he will need to show voters that his support is not simply automatic, but based on his best judgment.
3rd District: George Holt
In a replay of half the September Democratic primary, in which four candidates sought nomination, incumbent George Holt is again facing Robert Carr, though this time the challenger is running as a Republican. Our sense then was that Carr, though sincere, would benefit from more experience before taking public office. We still think that, and endorse Holt only by default.
Holt has been too much among the majority party's obstructionists, valuing his Democratic credentials more than the need to change the county's direction. It's hard to say Holt deserves re-election, but Carr is not ready for this seat.
4th District: Lucy Tretiak-Caruso
Like Ed Kuwik in the 1st District, incumbent Democrat Judy Fisher is the candidate for voters who are happy with the way things are in Erie County. Those who are not - those who believe Erie County needs a Legislature committed to changing the county's direction should support Lucy Tretiak-Caruso, a Republican.
Fisher is an approachable and intelligent legislator, but she has shown no enthusiasm for the task that matters more than any other: reviving the county's economic prospects. She sees trees, like problems with health care, but misses the forest, which is a county whose practices, in government and out, practically send up distress flares warning business leaders to stay away.
Tretiak-Caruso, who spent 23 years with the state Education Department, supports Giambra's efforts at regionalism, endorses consolidation of the county's industrial development agencies and understands that the money vacuum at Erie County Medical Center will ruin the hospital and county both if government doesn't attend to it. More than that, her presence on the Legislature can help to change the tone of public affairs in County Hall.
5th District: David Dale
David Dale ousted incumbent Gregory Olma in September's Democratic primary after one of the ugliest campaigns in recent memory. The Republican whose name will appear on the ballot, Pamela Wisniewski, is not running an active campaign.
6th District: Albert DeBenedetti
Democratic incumbent Albert DeBenedetti won the September primary. His Republican opponent, Joseph R. Totaro, is not running an active campaign.
7th District: Crystal Peoples
In a replay of September's Democratic primary, incumbent Crystal Peoples is facing Michael A. Robinson, now running as a Republican. We endorsed Peoples then and do so again now. She has been a valuable addition to the Legislature, while Robinson, though a sincere advocate for change, hasn't made the case for himself as an improvement.
As we noted in last month's endorsement, though, Peoples should use her position as Legislature majority leader to help the county Democratic Party transform itself into a more positive influence in county government.
9th District: John Greenan
Incumbent Republican John Greenan is a key player in the effort to produce a Legislature more interested in changing the tone and direction of county government. He is intelligent, committed and focused, and he brings those qualities to his position as minority leader. He deserves re-election.
His opponent, Timothy J. Pawarski, presents himself as a more thoughtful Democrat than many now on the County Legislature, citing the need to keep lowering the costs of government, for example, while also insisting that the county needs to look for better ways to cut costs during its current financial crunch before turning to layoffs. Although he is often vague about many issues - he says the county needs to put a jobs plan in place to keep young people here, but doesn't say how to go about that - he would make a credible legislator. But he did not make the case for dumping Greenan.