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Ceretto will take oath with a link to the past

When newly elected Assemblyman John D. Ceretto is sworn into office this week, he will be wearing cuff links that belonged to one of his predecessors.

Ceretto has been given a set of official New York State Assembly cuff links, obtained in the 1960s by the late Gregory J. Pope, a Lockport Democrat who represented eastern Niagara County in the Assembly from 1965 to 1970.

The connection here is Pope's son, Richard P., director of the Niagara County Refuse Disposal District. As a county legislator, Ceretto, R-Lewiston, served as chairman of the district board for the past two years and developed a close friendship with Pope.

"My family is greatly honored that Assemblyman Ceretto has chosen to honor my father's service to his country, the New York State Assembly and Niagara County," Pope said.

During part of his time in office, Gregory Pope's district was numbered the 138th District, although its boundaries had little in common with the 138th District Ceretto won election in last month.

Ceretto said he will be wearing Pope's cuff links when he takes the oath of office at 2 p.m. Saturday in Como Restaurant, 2220 Pine Ave., Niagara Falls.

State Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane, will administer the oath.

"It's quite an honor that Rick has asked me to wear his dad's cufflinks," Ceretto said.

He said he and the younger Pope once went to Albany together for a statewide meeting, and Pope was showing him some sites he remembered from his father's time in the Assembly.

"There was a bench outside the Capitol where he kind of broke down," Ceretto said. "He touched my heart. When he asked me at the county building [in Lockport] to wear his dad's cuff links, I thought about that. I'm just humbled."

He said he has a lot in common with Pope's father besides winning an Assembly seat.

"I worked 20 years in a factory. His father worked in a factory. I ended up as a union president. His dad was a union rep. He grew up with these immigrants. I grew up in an immigrant household," Ceretto said. "It's a great thing."

Gregory Pope was the first Democrat in half a century to win the old eastern Niagara County Assembly seat. After his time in the State Legislature, he served as appeals chairman of the state Unemployment Insurance Board.

Richard Pope ran unsuccessfully for his father's old Assembly seat in 1992.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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