The Niagara County Legislature's Republican-led majority refused Tuesday to appoint Jason J. Cafarella to the vacant 1st District seat, preferring to verbally attack him instead.
The Republicans permitted a late resolution to come to the floor, sponsored by Minority Leader Dennis F. Virtuoso, D-Niagara Falls, to appoint Cafarella, a former Democratic legislator, to succeed Democrat Richard A. Marasco, who resigned last week because of ill health.
However, the majority caucus voted unanimously against the appointment, which thus failed 15-2.
Legislature Chairman William L. Ross, C-Wheatfield, said a resume and interview process probably will be set up soon to find someone to fill Marasco's seat representing the DeVeaux area of Niagara Falls for the rest of the year.
Cafarella resigned from the Legislature as of March 31 because he moved out of the 3rd District, which he represented, into the 1st District.
Legislator Brittany I. Catchpole, the 18-year-old Town of Niagara Democrat who is running on the GOP line in the Nov. 8 election, led the attack on Cafarella.
Catchpole, who because of the redistricting and downsizing of the Legislature is now running for election in a district that includes Marasco's old turf, said the highlight of Cafarella's time in office was "turning the receiving of county health benefits into an $8,000 bonus for his day job."
Cafarella said Wednesday that he did indeed take county health benefits.
"This Legislature and Brittany Catchpole had an opportunity to eliminate health care for legislators. They kept health care, but then they attack people who took it in the past," he said.
Virtuoso said it would have made sense to appoint Cafarella to fill in because he just left office earlier this year and wouldn't have to be briefed on the issues.
Majority Leader Richard E. Updegrove, R-Lockport, said, "Nobody is suggesting that the residents of Niagara Falls aren't entitled to representation. There is a process."