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Farnham says he won't run for re-election

Another veteran Niagara County legislator says he's calling it quits.

Gerald K. Farnham, R-Lockport, said Thursday that he won't run for re-election, citing health, family and business concerns.

Legislator Renae Kimble, D-Niagara Falls, announced March 7 that she isn't running. After 18 years in office, she plans to move to a warmer climate to take care of her elderly parents.

Legislator Jason J. Cafarella, D-Niagara Falls, has resigned, effective next Thursday, because he's moving out of his district to another part of the Falls.

And Legislature Chairman William L. Ross, C-Wheatfield, said in January that he is willing to step aside if his departure is needed to avoid a primary against a younger colleague. That's a possibility because of the coming downsizing of the Legislature from 19 members to 15 after this year's elections.

Farnham, 66, said redistricting didn't play a role in his decision. His district comprises the entire Town of Pendleton and a sliver of the Town of Lockport, where he has long lived. But he has bought property in Cambria and has said he plans to relocate there.

Surrounded by districts represented by other Republican legislators, geographical realities made Farnham a prime possibility to end up facing a primary fight against a colleague if he wanted to stay in office.

"Over the years, I have run against some good people and strong candidates," he said. "Those things wouldn't bother me, no matter what the case was."

Farnham, who is completing his seventh term, said the lingering effects of a construction accident, his farming interests and his construction business leave him with less time for politics.

Farnham was injured Sept. 4, 2008, at Beechwood Nursing Home in Getzville, when one of his co-workers backed a piece of heavy equipment over his legs as Farnham was kneeling to take a measurement.

"Luckily, when my leg snapped, I fell backwards, or we wouldn't be having this conversation," Farnham told a reporter.

He also said he has 11 grandchildren and a 12th on the way. Three of his seven children live out of state.

Farnham has always called himself "an infrastructure guy." He served as deputy highway superintendent in Pendleton from 1966 to 2002, and during much of that time was also water and sewer superintendent. "I've always been with infrastructure, consolidation and good government," he said when asked his primary accomplishments in the Legislature. "Back when we had the tobacco settlement, we had a wise distribution of funds. I was chairman of public works then."

Farnham also was the last farmer in a Legislature that once upon a time had plenty of them.

He made his first bid for the Legislature in 1993, when he lost to Democrat Wayne A. Lenhart in a recount. "I won for a week," he recalled.

Farnham ran again in 1997, turned the tables on Lenhart and has been in office ever since.

"I've served my district the best I could," Farnham said. "I hope they agree. They kept re-electing me."

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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