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Lockport attorney Norris announces run for Corwin’s Assembly seat

LOCKPORT – Michael J. Norris, a Lockport attorney who formerly served as Niagara County Republican election commissioner and party chairman, announced Wednesday he’s running for the Assembly seat being vacated by Jane L. Corwin.

Corwin, R-Clarence, announced Tuesday night she’s not running for a fifth term in the 144th District, which covers parts of Niagara and Erie counties.

“This is something I’ve had great interest in over the years,” said Norris, who despite a lifetime of involvement in politics never has run for elective office before.

It is expected that Corwin will officially decline to run even though her nominating petitions already have been filed at the State Board of Elections in Albany, and Norris will be substituted as the Republican nominee.

No Democratic candidate has come forward so far in the district, which covers the towns of Clarence, Newstead and Alden in Erie County; the City of Lockport and the towns of Lockport, Porter, Wilson, Newfane, Somerset and Royalton in Niagara County; and the Town of Shelby in Orleans County. The deadline to file nominating petitions is Thursday.

Norris said in a prepared statement, “I pledge to continue pushing back against the New York City special interests and politicians who don’t respect our way of life. I will work to end the tax-and-spend mentality of Albany, support real ethical reforms, fight to help provide all the tools and resources our community needs to battle the heroin epidemic, support a repeal of the SAFE Act while further protecting our Second Amendment rights, and stop Albany from suffocating small businesses with mountains of red tape and regulations.”

Norris, 40 and single, became involved in Niagara County politics while he was still in high school. He was named the GOP election commissioner in 1999, at age 23.

He served in that post until 2002 before earning a law degree from Albany Law School and entering private practice 10 years ago. He remained involved in politics, and served as GOP chairman in Niagara County from 2009 to 2013.

At that time, Norris became town attorney in the Town of Lockport, succeeding his law partner, Daniel E. Seaman. Norris also serves as town attorney in Somerset and village attorney in Cassadaga, Chautauqua County.

“I witness firsthand the bureaucratic struggles and unfunded mandates placed on local taxpayers every day,” Norris said. “My unique perspective and knowledge will allow me to ask the tough questions and fight to cut through the Albany red tape, which cripples our local municipalities, businesses and taxpayers.”

Norris is a lifelong Lockport resident, a graduate of Lockport High School and Niagara University, and past president of the Lockport Rotary Club.

“I talk with community members every day, whether at our local Rotary Club meeting, the bowling alley or local coffee shops, and share in their frustrations with the utter disconnect between Albany and Western New York. If given this honor to serve, constituent service will be my first priority and I will listen and be accessible and accountable to the residents of the 144th District at all times and continue to advocate for our fair share,” he said. “Mom-and-pop businesses are struggling to stay afloat, our children are struggling to find employment, our constitutional rights continue to be stripped away, our veterans face serious difficulties despite their extraordinary service, and volunteer firefighters deserve greater recognition for the time and energy spent serving our communities. These are the very basic things that Albany should be addressing and I know I’m the leader our community can count on to do just that.”

He said of the departing assemblywoman, “For eight years, Jane Corwin has been a tremendous leader and advocate for our community. Western New York is stronger because of her dedication to us. I thank Assemblywoman Corwin for her service and am honored to have the opportunity to continue to fight for the values that make our region strong.”