The race for the 149th Assembly District is a potpourri of issues, featuring Democratic incumbent Sean Ryan talking up economic and waterfront development and tightening restrictions on funding by industrial development agencies.
Mix in a different type of banter from two political newcomers - GOP candidate Jacob J. Bratek, 29, of Lakeview, and Charley Tarr, 45, who got on the ballot by petitioning through an opportunity to ballot.
Both Bratek and Tarr face an uphill climb to unseat Ryan, who also has significant name recognition.
Bratek anchors his campaign platform on what he says is a need to repeal the NY SAFE Act gun control law and pushing for public transit extensions, given Buffalo’s economic resurgence.
Tarr is a self-described David & Goliath activist who was successful in his effort to get on the ballot of the Green Party with four signatures. He says he’ll officially be considered a Green Party member after the election. Tarr, who lives in Buffalo, champions his push on Title IX issues involving rape and assault.
“I have a keen eye on what’s happening in Western New York - whether it’s making the waterfront more open, or working hard with the Ford Stamping Plant that has had key investments and doubled its work force,” said Ryan, 49, an attorney, who is seeking re-election to a second term.
“I spend a lot of time talking about smart economic development. We ask companies, before we help with subsidies, like what kind of jobs are you going to create, and whether those salaries can be supported in the current economy.”
Ryan singled out IDAs and banning their support for retail projects.
“The IDAs in Erie County became the poster child statewide for bad deals,” he said.
Ryan, of Buffalo, was elected in a special election in September 2011 to finish the term of former Assemblyman Sam Hoyt.
Bratek is critical of the SAFE Act that Ryan supported. “The content of it, I feel it’s indefensible,” said Bratek, a police officer with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority for six years, following a one-year stint as a New York City police officer.
He is a life member of the National Rifle Association.
“Gun control does not reduce crime,” Bratek said. “I think the entire thing should be repealed. We have to attack it at all levels to reverse the legislation.”
Bratek takes issue with an audit last year of the NFTA commissioned through the Assembly’s budget office, which he said was critical of transit police.
“Rather than standing up for the officers, Ryan said transit police were creeping into city neighborhoods, which we’re not,” Bratek said. “Let police do their jobs, instead of using them as puppets in political theater.”
Tarr is working to open a Title VI investigation in support of Lafayette High School and English language learners.
“There’s something wrong with how state Education is bullying Lafayette High School,” Tarr said. “The money is there ... No one is holding John King accountable.”
The 149th district spans downtown, the waterfront, the Black Rock area, the West Side, parts of North Buffalo, the First Ward in Lackawanna and Hamburg.