For a respite from the mudslinging in the 60th State Senate District race, listen to the candidates for the mostly overlapping 140th Assembly, where both sides have taken the high road.
“I’ve met him and I like him,” incumbent Robin Schimminger says of his Republican challenger, certified public accountant William J. Reece.
“I thank Robin for his many years of service,” Reece says of the Kenmore Democrat first elected to the Assembly in 1976.
The odds are stacked against Reece in every measurable way, including enrollment figures, money and name recognition. And very little separates the candidates’ stances on policy issues.
Still, Reece wants voters to know they have a choice on Election Day.
“I’m getting out there, walking and meeting people, letting them know that I’m a competent candidate,” said Reece, 51. “If they want to see change they can vote for me and not worry that I’ll destroy the community.”
Meanwhile, the incumbent said he is maintaining his focus on improving the Western New York economy.
“That’s my overarching concern, is keeping my eye on the job creation climate and the cost of doing things in New York State,” said Schimminger, 67, chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry.
In fact, the economy and business are central to both candidates who have similar strong feelings on issues. Take, for instance, their lukewarm stances on the governor’s START-UP NY program aimed at locating start-up businesses on college campuses in return for tax-free benefits.
“It picks winners over losers,” said Schimminger. “It’s yet to be seen whether it compromises the mission of higher education and it’s yet to be seen whether it really does produce new jobs.”
“I haven’t seen a large start-up company take advantage of it yet and I’m still asking questions because as an accountant I’m trying to help people find their way in there,” said Reece, owner of Glencroft Coppersmiths in Clarence, a business started by his grandfather in the 1950s.
Schimminger also holds the Conservative Party line, rare for a Democrat, and the Independence Party line. He bolstered his conservative bona fides by voting against the SAFE Act’s gun-control measures. Both candidates said they objected to how quickly the law was pushed through the Legislature and support substantial repeal and reform.
The 140th includes the City of Tonawanda, the Riverside neighborhood of Buffalo and the Town of Tonawanda, including the Village of Kenmore. It also includes a portion of North Buffalo and most of North Tonawanda.
The latest enrollment figures show the district of 86,372 registered voters includes 39,874 Democrats and 23,844 Republicans.
Schimminger reported $357,146 in his campaign treasury, according to the most recent filings with the state Board of Elections. Reece reported $59 in his campaign account.
Neither side will go negative in the low-key race, and not just because Schimminger doesn’t have to and Reece can’t afford to.
“Being mean doesn’t raise the community up,” said Reece, a Sunday school teacher of 24 years for St. Francis of Assisi Parish in the City of Tonawanda. “I can’t out-conservative Robin. I can’t out-liberal Robin. I’m better off just going out and meeting people to understand what I can do.”