Posing a suddenly serious challenge to State Sen. William T. Stachowski in the 58th District, former Buffalo Detective Dennis A. Delano, so far, has based his campaign on his reputation as one of Western New York's most famous law enforcement officers.
But Friday, Stachowski, a Lake View Democrat, turned the tables on the veteran policeman, a Cheektowaga resident, by announcing endorsements from major police unions as well as Buffalo firefighters, who cited assistance to area police departments over his 27 years in Albany.
"Any time we had any problems or questions, he was always just a phone call away," David Mossman, president of the Cheektowaga Police Benevolent Association, said during a news conference in the firefighters' union headquarters on Delaware Avenue.
Mossman joined officials from unions representing Buffalo, West Seneca and state police, as well as the New York State Law Enforcement Officers Union, the Police Conference of New York and Buffalo Professional Firefighters. They cited his efforts in obtaining more than $2.3 million in funding for public safety, including projects for the Southtowns Hazardous Materials Team, West Seneca Police Department and Buffalo Underwater Recovery Squad.
John Moretti Jr., secretary of the Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Troopers, said Stachowski's efforts to restore funding for school resource officers -- many of whom are troopers -- gained him the backing of his union. He said the presence of troopers in schools fended off at least two area "Columbine type incidents" in recent years that gained no publicity.
"Thanks to the senator, they remain in the schools today," Moretti said. "They could have been disasters."
Delano and representatives of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee were unavailable to comment.
Stachowski, meanwhile, did not dispute the results of a Siena Research Institute poll released earlier this week showing Delano with a substantial lead of 49 percent to 36 percent. But he noted that the poll serves as a "good wake-up call for our supporters.
"We've cleared up that situation, and we're going to work hard the rest of the way," he said.
The district has about 54,000 more Democrats than Republicans, he noted, predicting that the base will turn out Nov. 4 and he will win.