Candidate says he has experience to be effective advocate for area

Photo by Tom Rivers
Robert Ortt, the North Tonawanda mayor who is running for State Senate, stops by the Republican booth at the Orleans County Fair on Monday evening and chats with Nancy Spychalski, left, and Kathy Case.


By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 22 July 2014
KNOWLESVILLE – Robert Ortt stopped by the Orleans County 4-H Fair on Monday. He will be back on Thursday for the chicken barbecue. He said local residents can expect to see him in Orleans often.

“You’ll be sick of seeing me because I’ll be here so much,” he said Monday evening while talking with people next to the Republican Party booth.

Ortt, 35, is running for the State Senate. He stepped in and was endorsed by Republican Party leaders in three counties after George Maziarz’s sudden announcement last week that he wouldn’t seek re-election.

Ortt has been North Tonawanda’s mayor the past 4 ½ years. He served in the National Guard and was deployed to Afghanistan from March to December 2008. Prior to being elected mayor, he served as the city’s treasurer and then clerk-treasurer.


Those experiences as a leader would make him an effective advocate for the area, whether seeking state resources for local communities or pushing to repeal unpopular and unconstitutional laws such as the SAFE Act, Ortt said.

At the Orleans Fair he signed a pledge to work to repeal the SAFE Act. He met with local leaders of the Shooters Committee for Political Education and then signed the pledge.

Maziarz signed a bill to repeal the SAFE Act. Ortt said he would do the same and would also try to work with other state legislators, including Democrats, to build support to oppose the law.

“This isn’t an issue that will just go away,” Ortt said. “In Orleans and Niagara there are a number of sportsmen. It’s a very important issue to them. There are a number of law-abiding gun owners.”

Republicans in the State Senate currently have a small majority and Gov. Cuomo has made wresting the Chamber to Democratic control a priority for this November’s election. Ortt said if the Senate switches to Democratic control, the SAFE Act will stand.

“We want to keep the Senate in Republican hands so we have a shot at repealing it,” he said. “There are some Democrats out there, hopefully, they would be for repealing it especially because of the way it was passed. It left a bad taste in a lot of folks’ mouths.”

The law was passed without public hearings.

His experience as mayor of a city of about 30,000 people shows him how the impact of state mandates, and their impact on local government budgets, he said. The mandates, without state funds to pay for them, is the prime driver for property taxes at the local level, Ortt said.

“Unfunded mandates that come out of Albany and are passed down to localities,” he said. “These unfunded mandates are a major reason there are high property taxes in Upstate New York.”

Localities need more options and discretion for providing state-mandated services, and more resources to implement the programs, he said. Otherwise it will be difficult to reduce the property taxes.

“The state needs to tackle local government issues,” Ortt said. “A better environment for local governments would bring down taxes.”


New York Power Authority and the state also should use more low-cost hydropower to keep and attract businesses for Western New York, and profits from the power plant should also be used to reduce electricity rates in the region, Ortt said.

“We need more low-cost power to provide jobs,” he said. “It’s a huge incentive for providing jobs.”

Ortt faces a Sept. 9 primary against Gia Arnold of Holley. She will be at a booth at the fair all week. She would like to have a series of debates with Ortt in the 62nd District, which includes all of Orleans and Niagara counties, as well as the towns of Sweden and Ogden in Monroe County.

Arnold said defeating Cuomo, who has a big lead in the polls over Rob Astorino, would be the best way to repeal the SAFE Act.

“Realistically you need Gov. Cuomo out of office and you have to build support from the other legislators,” she said.

Arnold, 24, knows she is viewed as a long-shot candidate but she and her supporters have been encouraged by recent upset defeats of incumbent Republicans, including Eric Cantor, the House majority leader from Virginia.

When Cantor lost in June, Arnold said her inbox filled with messages from her supporters.

“People told me, ‘You can do it, too,’” she said.


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Charlie Nesbitt didn’t seek State Senate seat

By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 20 July 2014
ALBION – Former State Assemblyman Charlie Nesbitt didn’t actively pursue George Maziarz’s seat in the State Senate after Maziarz sudden announcement last Sunday night that he wouldn’t seek re-election.

Nesbitt served in the State Assembly for 13 years before stepping down in 2005 after being Republican leader of the minority conference. He was appointed president of the State Tax Appeals Tribunal and continues to work as one of its three commissioners.

Nesbitt’s name was tossed out to a Committee on Vacancies that met last week and backed North Tonawanda Mayor Robert Ortt for the Republican endorsement for the 62nd Senate District.

“As long as we had a good candidate I wasn’t seeking it,” Nesbitt said.

And Ortt, a mayor for 4 ½ years, is a strong candidate, Nesbitt said.

“He has a good background and I’ve heard good things about him,” Nesbitt said. “He is a veteran and a CEO.”

Ortt, 35, served as the city’s treasurer and then clerk-treasurer before being elected mayor. Ortt enlisted in the National Guard on October 2001 after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He served a tour in Afghanistan from March to December 2008. Prior to working in city hall, Ortt was a personal financial analyst with Primerica Financial Services.

Gia Arnold, 24, of Holley has forced a GOP primary for Sept. 9. She also is working to be on the November ballot under the Libertarian Party.

The Republicans have a narrow edge in the Senate, and Democrats, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, want to see the power shift to Democrats after the November election.

Maziarz’s seat represents most of Niagara, all of Orleans and the western portion of Monroe. The Democrats have endorsed Niagara Falls attorney Johnny Destino, who lost a Republican Primary to Maziarz in 2012 and has switched parties to run as a Democrat this time.

Destino could see his chances for election improved if both Arnold and Ortt are in the ballot in November, splitting some of the Republican and Conservative bases.

Maziarz in his announcement on Sunday said the job was taking a toll with all the back and forth to Albany and his Senate district. Federal investigators are also looking into his campaign fund and have identified tens of thousands of dollars in unitemized and unreported checks.

Nesbitt worked closely with Maziarz in the State Legislature and said Maziarz had a reputation as one of the hard-working legislators in Albany with his work in the state capitol and in his home district. Nesbitt said the constant commutes and demands of the positions make it hard on legislators and their families.

“He really did a fine job,” Nesbitt said. “He worked as hard as anyone in politics.”


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North Tonawanda mayor has GOP backing for Maziarz seat

By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 18 July 2014
A committee to fill vacancies has picked North Tonawanda Mayor Robert Ortt as the Republican Party candidate for the 62 Senate District, which includes all of Orleans, most of Niagara and the western portion of Monroe.

Five Republican Party leaders picked Ortt as the party’s endorsed candidate after George Maziarz declined the party nomination and announced on Sunday night that he would retire at the end of 2014.

That launched a scramble to fill the spot for the 2014 election, and party leaders picked Ortt, who has been mayor of North Tonawanda the past 4 ½ years.

He will face Gia Arnold of Holley in a Republican Primary on Sept. 9. Arnold sought to be interviewed by the committee of Republican leaders. They picked Ortt without talking to Arnold.

In a joint statement Wednesday night, GOP chairmen Scott Kiedrowski of Niagara County, Ed Morgan of Orleans County and Bill Reilich of Monroe County announced their support for Ortt, who served in the National Guard and was deployed to Afghanistan from March to December 2008. Prior to being elected mayor, he served as the city’s treasurer and then clerk-treasurer.

“Serving as the chief executive of North Tonawanda, Rob has fought for a smaller, more common-sense government, while revitalizing his community,” according to the statement from the GOP chairmen. “A staunch defender of the Second Amendment, Rob will work to repeal the New York SAFE Act, and advocate for law abiding gun owners across New York. As a combat veteran, he will bring a commitment to leadership and service with him to Albany to represent the people of Niagara, Orleans and Monroe counties.”

The committee picked Ortt over Arnold.

“This seat will play a crucial role in preventing downstate Democrats from taking full control of New York state government at the expense of Western New Yorkers,” according to the chairmen. “We look forward to assisting Rob with the full support of our organizations and know he will represent the people of the 62nd district with the same integrity he has exhibited his entire career.”

Arnold has been a vocal opponent of the SAFE Act and one of the leaders of the New York Revolution, a group that formed after the SAFE Act was approved in January 2013. She helped convince every town and village board in Orleans County to pass resolutions calling on the state to repeal the SAFE Act.

She noted on a Facebook post on Thursday that North Tonawanda hasn’t passed such a resolution.


“You want to talk about jumping on the bandwagon a little late?” she said. “Where was he a year and a half ago?”


Arnold said she won’t just give “lip service” to issues. She said Ortt’s backing is from the “Good Ole Boys’ Club.”


“Now more than ever, we need accountability, we need tax relief, we need jobs, we need a senator who will truly represent us in Albany,” she said.

The winner of the GOP primary will face off against Johnny Destino in November. Destino, a Niagara Falls lawyer, challenged Maziarz in a GOP primary in 2012. He switched parties and is now running as a Democrat.


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County will transition to new EMO director

Photo by Tom Rivers
Former Orleans County Legislature Chairwoman Marcia Tuohey was among the well-wishers today who congratulated Paul Wagner on his retirement as the county’s emergency management director. Wagner retires on Friday after 14 years in the job. He was appointed to the position by Tuohey.

By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 17 July 2014
HOLLEY – Paul Wagner was unflappable in a high-pressure job, a person who welcomed suggestions – and criticism – with a goal of keeping residents safe and getting firefighters the resources they need for their jobs.

“Paul has always been around and available,” said Doug Jones Sr., the past fire chief at Kendall. “He can handle stressful situations.”

Wagner, a former Clarendon fire chief, will retire on Friday after 14 years as Orleans County’s emergency management director. He stayed on the job until a new $7.1 million digital radio system was installed. The new system continues to work out some “bugs” but county officials say the system is a vast improvement over the previous one that was implemented in 1992.

Jones was one of many leaders from fire departments throughout the county that attended a retirement party for Wagner at Hickory Ridge Country Club in Holley.

“One of the things I appreciated about Paul is we could have a disagreement and he said it was OK to disagree,” Jones said. “He didn’t hold a grudge.”

Dale Banker, a past Albion fire chief, will succeed Wagner. Banker starts at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday. Banker has worked 36 years for the state Department of Transportation. He has been the DOT’s equipment coordinator and a supervisor out of the Albion office. He will go on leave from the DOT and officially retire from the state in November.

Banker said he will push to recruit more firefighters because fire departments need more active members.

“We’re at an all-time low for volunteers,” Banker said.

Banker would also like to see upgraded and expanded classroom facilities for firefighters at the Emergency Management Office on Countyhouse Road in Albion. He would also like to establish a shooting range for firearms training.

Wagner isn’t fully retiring. He will stay on as a part-time consultant until the end of the year.


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At Fair next week, Extension will push to grow 4-H program

Photo by Tom Rivers
Alice Mathes, a 4-H club leader, decorates the Trolley Building for next week’s 4-H Fair. She is joined by Robert Batt, the 4-H educator, who has a puppet of a chicken that will be part of a “Farmer for a day” exhibit.


By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 17 July 2014
KNOWLESVILLE – Organizers of next week’s Orleans County 4-H Fair want to make growing the 4-H program a focus of the week-long Fair.

There are about 300 4-H’ers in the county. Robert Batt, the 4-H educator, wants to grow the program by at least 35 more 4-H’ers. That is the 4-H program’s goal, to sign up at least that many new kids during the Fair.


If 4-H can add that many new members, Batt has offered an incentive: He will wear a green spandex suit on July 26 for the last day of the Fair.

Batt said the program has expanded from traditional clubs with animals and home economics. Those clubs are still the core of the program, but 4-H has added robotics and a Lego Club. (For more on the 4-H program, click here.)

The opportunities are available for only a $5 enrollment fee, a major bargain, Batt said. Many youth sports leagues can easily get into hundreds of dollars per child.

“We are keeping the fee at $5 so we can keep it open to as many people as we can,” said Batt.

Many of the 4-H Clubs will have displays in the Trolley Building to educate the public about opportunities in 4-H.

About 25,000 people typically attend the Fair, which runs from July 21-26. Batt said the Fair Board has lined up a full schedule of entertainment, while keeping many fair favorites, such as the pie-eating contest, grease pole competition and many livestock events.

“We’ve work hard to preserve the Fair traditions while bringing in new attractions,” Batt said.

For more on the Fair, click here.


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Orleans tourism director named to Canal Commission

Press release, State Sen. George Maziarz Posted 16 July 2014

Wayne Hale of Medina has been appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to serve as a member of the New York State Canal Recreationway Commission.  


Hale has worked as Director of the Orleans County Planning and Development Department since 1986, Tourism Project Director for Orleans County’s I Love NY Program since 1992, and Manager of the Orleans County Marine Park since 1998.


“Wayne is a consummate professional who is widely respected across the state for his experience and wisdom relating to tourism and planning matters,” said State Sen. George Maziarz. “He will be a great Orleans County voice and I was proud to recommend him for appointment to this important panel.”


The Canal Recreationway Commission maintains and revises the Canal Recreationway Plan and makes recommendations to the Thruway Authority, Canal Corporation, and state leaders concerning the future of the canal system.


“I’m deeply gratified that Sen. Maziarz considered me for nomination as a Commission member,” Hale said. “This is a capstone event in my 31-year career at the Orleans County Planning Department. We’ve lead sizable efforts in planning, development and promotion of the Erie Canal, locally and regionally, and my appointment brings the prospect of applying that experience to a new and greater challenge.”


Passionate as he is about canal and tourism matters, Hale has been active with the Genesee/Finger Lakes Region Erie Canal Corridor Plan, Seaway Trail National Scenic Byway, the New York State Heritage Areas Advisory Council, Western New York Canal Coalition, Canal New York Marketing and Business Alliance, and several other groups.


Hale’s term as Canal Recreationway Commission member expires on March 23, 2017. For more information about the commission, click here.


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Orleans sees a jump in sales tax

Many other counties see a drop in dollars

By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 16 July 2014
ALBION – Orleans County’s sales tax revenues jumped 5.3 percent or by nearly $400,000 the first six months of 2014, compared to the same time a year ago.

That increase defies a downward trend for many other counties in the state. In fact, 16 of the 62 counties have a drop in sales tax revenue and state-wide the county sales tax revenue has only increased 0.14 percent, according to the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance.

Orleans County officials budgeted for a $25,000 increase in sales tax for the year. The county typically takes in about $15 million for the year.

It’s up by $386,597 for the first six months, $7,741,592 for the first half of 2014 compared to $7,354,995 during the same time frame in 2013.

Neighboring Genesee County saw a steep drop the first half of 2014, a decrease of 4.1 percent or $767,399 to $17,891,433. Wyoming County is down 0.8 percent and Livingston is behind the 2013 pace by 0.7 percent.

Orleans didn’t experience the growth in sales tax like the three other GLOW counties prior to this year. The county came in $363,831 below its budget for sales tax in 2013, said Chuck Nesbitt, the county’s chief administrative officer.

The county’s tracking shows a $183,099 increase for the first half of 2014, Nesbitt said.

“My hope at this time is that we will make the budgeted number,” he said.

With so many counties trailing last year’s numbers, the New York State Association of Counties is worried about “significant pockets of weakness across the state.” The sales tax revenue is a key indicator of economic health of a community, said Stephen J. Acquario, NYSAC executive director.

“Sales tax revenue is crucial to counties, as it is one of only a handful of revenue sources available,” he said. “The state must make an ongoing commitment to targeted Mandate Relief in health and human programs and relieve the burden on local taxpayers.”


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Extension will share plan at fair for building with commercial kitchen

Photos by Tom Rivers
The Cornell Cooperative extension in Orleans County is considering a 70-by-120-foot building in this green space south of the Trolley Building.

By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 16 July 2014
KNOWLESVILLE – Next week’s Orleans County 4-H Fair will give fair-goers a chance to look into what the future could hold for the fairgrounds.

The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orleans County is in the early stages of investigating the feasibility of a 70-by-120 foot commercial kitchen/conference center for the fairgrounds. It would be south of the Trolley Building on what is now a grass field.

Extension wants to hear from the public if they would use the building, and if they see it as an asset for the fairgrounds. Some initial renderings of the building will be on display. The building would be bigger than the Trolley Building.

“We want to start the conversation,” said Jennifer Wagester, Extension executive director. “Is this something we want? Is this something we need?”

She sees the site as a draw for many events and conferences, and also as a business incubator for chefs, restaurants and food businesses that could rent the commercial kitchen.

The Trolley Building’s kitchen isn’t big enough to be used as a commercial kitchen, and the building doesn’t quite seat enough for many potential conferences and events, she said. That building also is often used for 4-H events, including rabbit shows.

“It’s a good space and the kids use it,” she said. “But we don’t want to mix it with food.”

The new building would also have room for several organizations to move out of cramped food booths. The Senior Council Stand, pie stand, French fry stand and milkshake booth all need upgrades. They also are short on storage space, requiring daily deliveries during the fair.

The new building would replace the need for this series of food booths that lack storage space and need upgrades.

The new building would have more space to store food, and the site could be used year-round, Wagester said.

She would like the site to be energy efficient. That could help secure grant funding from NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority).
The building would be low profile and modest, and would blend in with the neighboring Education Center, Wagester said.

The Extension doesn’t have bids or quotes for the 8,400-square-foot building. She and other Extension leaders will pursue those numbers soon.

The Extension board asked Wagester to look for projects that would bring more resources into the county, and also position the organization for the future. She sees many potential partnerships if the project goes forward. The commercial kitchen could be linked with GCC’s food processing program. Chefs and food businesses could partner with the local ag community, which would produce the food that would be prepared in the kitchen.

“This would reposition us in our place with nutrition and food science,” Wagester said. “In Orleans County we’re an agricultural economy. It would make sense to capitalize on what we have here because food is our biggest resource.”


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North Tonawanda mayor will seek Maziarz’s position

Robert G. Ortt

By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 15 July 2014
NORTH TONAWANDA – The mayor of North Tonawanda announced today he will seek to fill George Maziarz's position in the State Senate.

Robert G. Ortt, 35, has been North Tonawanda mayor since Jan. 1, 2010. Prior to that he served as the city’s treasurer and then clerk-treasurer.

Ortt enlisted in the National Guard on October 2001 after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He served a tour in Afghanistan from March to December 2008. Prior to working in city hall, Ortt was a personal financial analyst with Primerica Financial Services.

He issued this statement today:


“Public service has always been a duty I’ve been proud to fulfill. As a veteran, I was proud to serve my country in Operation Enduring Freedom, mentoring the Afghan National Police in Kandahar City. As a civilian, I have the great privilege of serving my community as the chief executive of the City of North Tonawanda. What New York State needs most are leaders who will put service to others first and foremost.

“After serious considerations with my wife Meghan, I have decided to announce my candidacy to serve the people of the 62nd district in the New York State Senate. I plan to bring the values and leadership of a veteran and chief executive with me to Albany, to represent the people of Niagara, Orleans and Monroe counties.”


A committee to fill vacancies will name a candidate for the Republican line after Maziarz announced on Sunday he wouldn’t be seeking re-election.


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Gia Arnold believes she has earned an interview from GOP committee

Photo by Tom Rivers
Gia Arnold of Holley, a candidate for State Senate, speaks from the Orleans County Courthouse front steps with some of her supporters this afternoon. Arnold wants a five-person committee to interview her as the committee looks for another endorsed Republican candidate.


By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 14 July 2014
ALBION – Gia Arnold is only asking for an interview from a five-person committee that will fill a vacancy for the 62nd Senate District’s endorsed Republican candidate.
George Maziarz had the party’s endorsement but he has declined the nomination. Today was the deadline to accept or decline.

Arnold had already worked to force a Republican primary after she submitted petitions signed by about 1,500 registered voters last week. But she hasn’t been interviewed by key Republican Party leaders in the 62nd Senate District, which includes most of Niagara, all of Orleans and a western portion of Monroe.

She said today during news conferences in Albion and North Tonawanda that she doesn’t want the party leaders to use “backroom politics” to select a candidate.

Arnold, 24, is a mother of three young children. She and her husband Jeremy own a tree trimming business.

She became active in politics last year after the SAFE Act was passed by the State Legislature and Gov. Cuomo. Although Maziarz opposed the SAFE Act, Arnold says the senator could have done more to work towards its repeal.

She fully expected to square off against him in a September Primary.

“I was shocked because he has been out campaigning,” Arnold said about Maziarz’s announcement. The two both attended and spoke at a rally Saturday in Albion about Second Amendment rights.

Arnold said she sought an interview with Republican Party leaders in the three counties in the spring, but they told her they had already picked Maziarz back in February.

She was interviewed by Orleans County Conservative Party leaders and they endorsed her. However, State Conservative Party leaders gave the endorsement to Maziarz. She is now trying to get that endorsement. She fears the five-person Republican committee to fill vacancies will pick someone in “the club” and the Conservatives will then rubber stamp that endorsement.

“I believe I deserve a chance based on all the work I’ve been doing in the district,” she said today.

She would like to see the committee, which will include three people from Niagara, interview candidates from Orleans and Monroe counties, and not just “anoint” someone from Niagara County. (Many media outlets have listed North Tonawanda Mayor Robert Ortt as the likely Republican favorite.)

“Isn’t it time we break-up the good ole boys club?” Arnold said at her stop in Albion this afternoon.

Ed Morgan, chairman of the Orleans County Republican Party, told the Orleans Hub on Sunday night that a Niagara County candidate would likely get the committee’s endorsement because Niagara has three of the five votes.

“Would a candidate from one county with a lesser population not effectively serve a constituency from another with a greater population?” Arnold said. “How about endorsing a home-grown not hand-picked candidate that has been working hard to gain support the past several months in his own backyard.”


If Arnold isn’t the choice of the committee, she believes she has enough signatures to be on the ballot for primaries in September. She also is working to run under the Libertarian line in November.

The Republican candidate will likely face Johnny Destino, a Niagara Falls attorney. He has the Democratic Party line. He ran as a Republican in a primary against Maziarz in 2012. He switched parties this election.

Arnold said she wasn’t impressed by Destino for changing and running as a Democrat this time.

“That says a lot about his morals that he’ll do anything to get elected,” she said.

Arnold was joined in Albion by Paul Lauricella, vice chairman of the Orleans County Conservative Committee. He said the group is in strong support of Arnold, who said she wouldn’t serve more than 8 years. Maziarz has been in office as a state senator since 1995.

She has shown a willingness to speak out on issues and fight, Lauricella said.

“She could handle those boys downstate,” Lauricella said. “She’s an independent thinker and she wouldn’t sell out on Day 1 like all of the others once they are elected.”

Lauricella said Maziarz leaves with a lot of fans in Orleans County.

“I like George,” Lauricella said. “He’s a very personable man. He’s just been there too long.”


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Arnold wants consideration from GOP, Conservative brass

By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 14 July 2014
State Senate candidate Gia Arnold wants Republican Party bosses to give her a shot as the party’s endorsed candidate.

She submitted petitions last week to run as both a Conservative and Republican candidate. With news that George Maziarz is retiring and not seeking re-election, Arnold believes that both parties' leaders should give her consideration as the endorsed candidate.

Arnold, 24, of Holley will be having news conferences on the steps of North Tonawanda City Hall at 11 a.m. today and then at 2 p.m. in front of the Orleans County Courthouse in Albion.

Media reports have said that Robert Ortt, North Tonawanda mayor, is the likely Republican nominee. Arnold wants the party leaders to not overlook her. Thus far, she said she hasn’t been interviewed.

On Facebook this morning, she criticized Ortt for heaping praise on Maziarz and not acknowledging the district’s economic struggles.

“I fear that Robert Ortt is just another pawn willing to play the corrupt games that Maziarz has been involved with all along,” Arnold said on Facebook. “We need a new, fresh replacement in Albany.”


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Maziarz issues statement, saying he’ll retire

Staff reports Posted 13 July 2013
State Sen. George Maziarz will end his career in Albany this year, after 19 years as a state senator.

He confirmed media reports tonight that he wasn’t going to seek re-election. He issued this statement:

“It is no secret to my family and close friends that I have been considering retirement from the state Legislature for the last five years. And as I geared up for another long campaign season, I realized I just did not have the passion and commitment that I have had in the past to see it through.

“People will ask me why now and the simple answer is there is never the perfect time to step away. I had the honor of following the late John Daly into the State Senate. I remember him telling me when he left the Senate it was simply time for the next generation of leaders in the Legislature. After nearly two decades in office, I fully understand what he meant and feel that way today.

“My second daughter gets married this summer and that is a much bigger priority for me than another grueling campaign. My family has sacrificed enough for my public service through the years and I cannot ask for any more.

“To the people of Niagara, Orleans and Monroe counties who I have had the pleasure to represent since 1995, I extend my heartfelt appreciation for your continued support. I always told people that being your Senator was the greatest job in the world, one I dedicated myself to 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We accomplished great things and I did my best to help my constituents with any problem ... big or small. Thank you for giving a kid from North Tonawanda the chance to fulfill his dream of serving in the state Senate.”


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Maziarz won’t seek re-election

File photo by Tom Rivers
State Sen. George Maziarz speaks during a legislative luncheon organized by the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce in January. He is joined by County Legislator Don Allport, left, and State Assemblyman Steve Hawley.


By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 13 July 2014
George Maziarz, one of the most powerful state senators in Albany, won’t be seeking re-election. Maziarz called Republican Party leaders in his three-county district today to share the news he will decline the party’s nomination for another two-year term.

“It’s terrible news, terrible news,” said Ed Morgan, chairman of the Republican Party in Orleans County. “He’s been a great senator.”

Channel 4 in Buffalo first broke the news about Maziarz opting against re-election. (Click here to see Channel 4’s story.)

Morgan said Maziarz, who has represented the area in Albany since 1995, didn’t want the hectic schedule anymore.

“He’s very tired of the pace of going back and forth to Albany,” Morgan said. “He doesn’t have any health issues right now, but he doesn’t want to get any, either.”

Maziarz was first elected to the State Senate in 1995. His district includes all of Orleans County, most of Niagara and a western portion of Monroe County.

Channel 4 reports that Republican Party leaders are likely to endorse North Tonawanda Mayor Bob Ortt as the Republican nominee.

Morgan said a committee of five – himself, Bill Reilich from Monroe County, and three from Niagara – will soon meet to talk about a candidate. Niagara will have the majority of the votes so Morgan said he expects the candidate will likely come from that county.

Maziarz has handily won every election since 1995. A Republican challenger from two years ago, Johnny Destino of Niagara Falls, is switching to run as Democrat this election. Gia Arnold of Holley also filed a petition to run as a Republican.


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2 will try to unseat Maziarz

By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 11 July 2014
State Sen. George Maziarz will be challenged in a Republican Primary by Gia Arnold of Holley. Johnny Destino, a Niagara Falls attorney who ran against Maziarz two years ago in a GOP primary, this time will run as a Democrat.

Both Destino and Arnold filed nominating petitions on Thursday, The Buffalo News is reporting.

Destino lost to Maziarz in a GOP primary in September 2012, with Maziarz getting 69 percent of the vote. Maziarz, R-Newfane, has been a member of the State Senate since 1995. His district includes all of Orleans, a western portion of Monroe and most of Niagara County.

Arnold is making her first political run. She has been active with New York Revolution, and is a vocal opponent to the NY SAFE Act. Maziarz also has opposed the SAFE Act.


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Chuck Nesbitt, the county’s manager, adds to his credentials

File photo by Tom Rivers
Chuck Nesbitt details the Orleans County budget during a public hearing last December at the County Courthouse.


Press release, Orleans County Legislature and the International City/County Management Association Posted 11 July 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Chuck Nesbitt, chief administrative officer for Orleans County, recently received the Credentialed Manager designation from ICMA, the International City/County Management Association.

Nesbitt is one of over 1,300 local government management professionals currently credentialed through the ICMA Voluntary Credentialing Program and one of only 20 in New York State.

ICMA’s mission is to create excellence in local governance by promoting professional management worldwide and increasing the proficiency of appointed chief administrative officers, assistant administrators and other employees who serve local governments and regional entities around the world. The organization’s nearly 9,000 members in 27 countries also include educators, students, and other local government employees.


“Chuck’s ICMA credential is well-deserved and certainly earned,” said David Callard, chairman of the Orleans County Legislature. “He is a valued partner to me, the Orleans County Legislature and the many department heads he leads. Chuck possesses a deep knowledge and understanding of the needs and challenges of local government and he is steadfast in his commitment to doing what’s best for the county and its taxpayers.”


Nesbitt has been the county’s CAO since 2005. Prior to that, he served as an economic development specialist with Empire State Development, New York State’s economic development agency.

He also serves as the President of the New York State Association of County Administrators and Managers, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Taxation and Finance for the New York State Association of Counties and Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Healthcare Alliance of Western New York.


To receive the ICMA credential, a member must have significant experience as a senior management executive in local government; have earned a degree, preferably in public administration or a related field; pass a detailed examination and demonstrated a commitment to high standards of integrity and to lifelong learning and professional development.


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