Longtime Democratic operative Gary D. Parenti announced his candidacy Monday for the 138th District seat in the Assembly.
His announcement sets the stage for a Democratic primary in September with Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte.
About 200 supporters came to the Cristoforo Columbo Society Hall on Pine Avenue for Parenti's announcement.
Parenti, 40, a Forest Avenue resident, contended that DelMonte "is asleep at the switch and tied to downstate special interests." He said state government is dysfunctional and ignores Niagara County, which should be booming.
"We pay some of the highest taxes in the nation and get very little in return," said Parenti, a Niagara-Wheatfield High School graduate.
A native of Niagara Falls, he has worked on several state and local Democratic campaigns, including those of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Buffalo Comptroller Anthony R. Nanula. Most recently, he was a state legislative aide working on Byron W. Brown's campaign for mayor of Buffalo.
Parenti formerly worked as Western New York regional director for the Assembly and on the State Senate staff for Niagara County and state issues.
Parenti has already been critical of DelMonte, who recently was endorsed by the Niagara County Democratic Committee. He told The Buffalo News last month that a public meeting DelMonte held in Niagara Falls City Hall on Feb. 10 -- where she demanded that Gov. George E. Pataki sign legislation that would direct local casino revenues to the city instead of USA Niagara Development Corp. -- was only for show.
Monday, Parenti said of DelMonte, "She's mired in special interest, number one," but he would not elaborate.
Niagara County Legislator Renae Kimble, D-Niagara Falls, expressed her support.
"Gary Parenti is the real deal, and he's the voice that we need in Albany to make a difference," she said. ". . . We're facing so many problems in Niagara Falls that have not been addressed."
DelMonte, 49, of Youngstown, responded to a Buffalo News request for comment with a fax touting her accomplishments, including:
* Helping to save the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station by securing more than $400,000 in state funds.
* Authorizing legislation to create and expand the Niagara Wine Trail.
* Securing $400,000 for the new heart center and emergency department at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.
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