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Working Families wants voice in Schimminger race

After 32 years representing the Tonawandas, Robin L. Schimminger has become a household name.

For his challenger in next month's 140th Assembly District election, the priority is getting the Working Families Party name out there, rather than her own -- Janice G. Tennant.

"It has nothing to do with me personally," said Tennant, a political novice who works in the financial planning field. "It has to do with the Working Families . . . believing in a . . . party."

Formerly a registered Democrat, the Town of Tonawanda resident said she became aware of Working Families several years ago and began attending meetings. "Different ideas that definitely fit who I was," she explained.

Good jobs that pay living wages; quality, affordable health care for all; and a good education for all top the party's platform.

By her own admission, Tennant's participation in the 140th race pretty much is limited to using her name to get the party on the ballot.

"I'm not running a campaign," she said. She's neither raising nor spending money, nor actively seeking endorsements -- although she welcomed an offer of support from NARAL Pro-Choice of New York.

A 17th term appears inevitable for Schimminger, a Kenmore resident who's running on the Democratic, Independence and Conservative lines.

Schimminger's campaign financial disclosure reports to the state Board of Elections for this year note $79,225 in contributions and slightly more than $30,400 in expenses.

"I think the next term, we really have to seize the opportunity to tighten the state's belt," Schimminger said.

"The greatest issue that confronts upstate New York is the cost of doing business, and some part of that is due to the state," he said. "So we should really be focused on improving the job-creation climate, generally, and also focused on differentiating within New York State the application of state policies and programs."

But what has he done lately?

Schimminger said his greatest accomplishment this term was sparing DeGraff Memorial Hospital in North Tonawanda from closure and conversion to a nursing home, as recommended in 2006 by the Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century -- the Berger Commission.

"I went to work with much focus on that issue, and we were able to turn back that recommendation, and DeGraff now stays open," he said.


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