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Editorial: Jacobs, Ranzenhofer for Senate; Wallace, Morinello for Assembly

60th Senate District

Christopher Jacobs should be elected to this open seat created by the abrupt decision by Sen. Marc C. Panepinto not to seek re-election. The winner of this seat will help determine whether the closely divided Senate remains in Republican hands.

Jacobs, a Republican, has an impressive background, ranging from education to development to knowledge of the mechanics of government, that will bode well for his constituents. He has been a dedicated public servant for years, whether that meant participating as an elected member of the Buffalo Board of Education, his work in state government as secretary of state under the Pataki administration or in his current job as Erie County clerk. And that does not include his educational funding efforts for disadvantaged youths.

Jacobs’ work as a developer informs his opinion on economic matters affecting the state. While he sounds a positive note and hopes the SolarCity project at RiverBend succeeds, he believes three-quarters of a billion dollars of public funds on one project to be too risky. Given the bonanza likely to spring from RiverBend and other Buffalo Billion projects, every member of the Western New York delegation should commit to continuing support for the state’s economic development efforts here.

We also take issue with his support in a campaign ad for the myth that upstate tax dollars go to support New York City when in overall terms we get far more state dollars than we send to Albany.

His Democratic opponent is Amber Small, executive director of the Parkside Community Association, who has little political experience. She has the endorsement of the New York State United Teachers union and supports spending billions more on education while opposing the Common Core standards.

It is in the general interest of upstate New York to keep the Senate in Republican hands. That, coupled with Jacobs’ experience and accomplishments, earn him our recommendation for State Senate.

61st Senate District

Voters should return incumbent Michael H. Ranzenhofer to office for a fifth term in this district that sprawls from Amherst to Rochester. The Amherst Republican has proven himself a solid legislator who does his homework, reads bills (sadly, not always the norm among legislators) and has built a reputation as a sharp elected official whose business-friendly budget priorities have centered around reduced spending and lowered taxes.

He draws the most criticism on the topic of the LLC loophole – that sneaky method well-heeled donors can use to funnel wads of money to their favored candidates. A bill that many thought would finally stop the practice died in Ranzenhofer’s committee, although he strenuously denies he was responsible for halting the bill in its tracks. He argues that a better balanced, comprehensive bill is needed. That’s true, although closing the LLC loophole would have been a start. Ranzenhofer has proposed an ethics bill that will lower campaign contribution limits, close the LLC loophole and require more disclosure. If re-elected, he needs to be a champion for tougher ethics laws.

His Democratic opponent, Erie County Legislator Thomas A. Loughran, presents a strong challenge. As an Erie County legislator, and a solid one, he has name recognition in the western end of this district. The public will be better served if he remains in the County Legislature and Ranzenhofer is returned to the State Senate.

143rd Assembly District

This could easily be known as the Scandal Seat in Western New York, with its two most recent occupants having been driven out by sexual impropriety. It is essential for residents of this Cheektowaga-based seat to know they have reliable, honorable representation, and the good news is that both candidates appear to qualify, at least on that score. Both also say they want to focus on ethics, something sorely lacking in Albany.

On question of readiness, though, Democrat Monica Wallace has the edge. She is better informed than her Republican opponent, Russell W. Sugg, and more likely to wield influence in the Assembly.

Still, Wallace is Democratic to a fault. A lawyer and law professor, she cleaves to party orthodoxy down the line, including the preposterous Scaffold Law, which drives up construction costs while doing nothing to improve worker safety, as it is touted to do.

Sugg is intense and busy – he has three jobs, including as a Lancaster village trustee – but was unaware of the LLC loophole, which allows virtually unlimited donations to candidates and is a key issue in the Albany ethics debate. He is clearly an able man, but this year, at least, Wallace is better suited to the task.

145th Assembly District

This race started out as a difficult choice: The seasoned politician vs. the seasoned judge. But after revelations that political considerations were part of the decision-making process for grants Ceretto awarded in his district last year, the decision has become an easy one.

Republican Angelo J. Morinello is the choice to unseat incumbent Assemblyman John D. Ceretto.

Morinello, a Niagara Falls native, is a former City Court and County Court judge. He says he became disillusioned with Albany’s culture of corruption and career politicians. After seeing Ceretto switch parties from Republican to Democratic after the last election, Morinello saw opportunity.

The former judge says he is not looking for a long career in Albany. The Vietnam veteran, businessman and attorney was required to retire as judge when he turned 70. Morinello is convincing when he says he could better serve constituents. He has the right perspective on New York’s culture of corruption and the scandalous pay-to-play schemes some lawmakers run. He supports pension forfeiture for corrupt lawmakers and rejects raises for elected state leaders.

As a Republican in the Democratic Assembly, Morinello would get far less moey to dole out to his constituents. But efforts in Ceretto’s office to let politics interfere with those grants preclude us from endorsing Ceretto.


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