Tag Archives: candidates

Politics in a One-Party Town

22 Oct

Last night, I did  my civic duty and attended a candidate forum in the town of Clarence, sponsored by my local chamber of commerce. (Note: I am a member of my local Democratic Committee). The entire panel of candidates was made up of white males. There is one female candidate for town board, Tracy Francisco, but she was unable to attend.  The forum had been sponsored by the League of Women Voters in the past, but is now run by the Chamber of Commerce. 

Stefan Mychajliw was there, and he delivered his well-polished shtick. His knowledge of audits and finances is thin, so he spends time doing what he does best – being gregarious and charming. He talks much of his family, heritage, and upbringing, and he loves to talk about leading by example – his first audit was his own office, e.g. Unfortunately, Kevin Gaughan did not appear. This is a shame, because he’s smart and people like what he has to say. 

Alan Getter is a Clarence CPA who is running against incumbent Ed Rath. They were asked a few questions about the recent Child Protective Services issues, and about county roads. Rath pointed out that Clarence has more county roads than any other town (although not the most lane-miles). Some of the roads in town are crumbling, and the small, discretionary portion of the county budget doesn’t allow for everything to be fixed right away. The long-gone Board of Supervisors enjoyed shunting responsibility for maintaining rural and suburban roads to the county, and it might be time to start un-doing that, and returning responsibility to the towns. 

There was an overarching theme in all of these matters in a town where Democrats are treated as mythical creatures, like unicorns or the Loch Ness Monster: 

Can you explain how you’ll properly staff & fund your particular government office, while simultaneously demagoguing public spending and taxes?” 

In Clarence, town races also come down to, “Please expound on your dedication to maintaining parks and green space, and explain how we will encourage commercial investment to help prop up the tax base“. 

Everyone hates taxes, and everyone made the point that they would keep a close eye on runaway government spending, but the same people are concerned about the quality of roads and whether the town is getting its “fair share” of county money. I mean, we rely on the county and state for police services, so really there’s not a lot of room for complaint. If Clarence wants green space (a hot-button issue) and to improve its roadways, then it should do it, and stop waiting for others to do so. 

I got a chance to hear Democratic Sheriff candidate Dick Dobson speak for the first time last night – Tim Howard was absent. Dobson is very articulate and persuasive, and explained how his work organizing a police force in East Timor gave him a unique perspective in how a police force should operate. He also gave the best rationale for maintaining a quality, secure holding center I’ve ever heard a Democratic candidate for that office give, and the way in which he delivered it had the crowd really paying attention. Dobson’s really polished, and if Bert Dunn would get the hell out of the race, Dobson would have an excellent shot. 

Finally, “highway supervisor” seems like a purely ministerial thing – maintain town roads, plow them, and clear debris. The only reason it’s an elected position is because it’s a patronage pit in every town, and the best way to grow and maintain political power is to control a handful of jobs – this is now completely controlled by the town’s one-party system. There is no reason why it should be elected, and towns should make it an appointed position. 

Maybe Gaughan’s government downsizing effort was a good idea in terms of saving people money. 

Tea New York’s Candidates’ Night

14 Jun

On Saturday, Rus Thompson hosted Tea New York’s candidates’ night in Kenmore. The crowd of about 250 people heard from several candidates – many of them long-shots – for many local and statewide races. This was a crowd of Paladino loyalists at heart. Practically every single candidate pledged to do real reform for regular folks, lower taxes, free up guns, weaken Medicaid and other social programs, and other typical right-tea-party stuff. Here is the event’s kick-off, with Rus Thompson explaining who makes up “Tea New York“, and introducing Assemblyman Jack Quinn III, who is running for SD-58, and spoke without a hint of irony about how broken Albany is. He listed a laundry list of things that need to be changed in Albany, honing in on the easiest bogeyman – Medicaid. He didn’t explain exactly what he has done as a minority Assemblyman to effect those changes, or what he might do in an evenly split Senate. Tom Casey is a Democrat running in the Stachowski race, and made that very point – that Jack Quinn is part of the problem he claims to want to reform.

Joe Golombek was the other Democrat to speak at this event. He is running in a primary against Sam Hoyt in A-144 and pledged to be an independent voice in Albany, not unlike Mark Schroeder. He omitted any mention, however, of his ties to the capo di tutti capi of filth in New York politics, Steve Pigeon.

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Here is a string of speeches, starting out with former Erie County Republican Party chairman Jim Domagalski, who is running for Dale Volker’s seat in SD-59, pledged to lower taxes, enact reforms, “close New York’s borders” and cut Medicaid, and expressed his faith in an odd way. Former Sheriff Pat Gallivan followed Domagalski, and he more touted his own past budget-cutting bona fides, and rebutted Domagalski’s claim that Gallivan’s job is a “no-show” appointment. Gallivan also called for openness and transparency in government personnel, contracts, and in political contributions. Subjectively, Gallivan was much more polished than Domagalski.

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In the SD-60 race, Mark Grisanti is running as a Republican against Antoine Thompson. His speech didn’t make it to the Ustream save, but he has fantastic candidate hair, and came up with genuine ideas for bettering that district, such as turning the Niagara Falls Airport into an international air cargo hub.

Here, Ken Case gives a speech for his race for county court judge, touting his prosecutorial experience, which is odd since a judge shouldn’t have a predisposition for deciding cases.

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Who, exactly, are the “special interests” everyone is fighting against? I heard a lot of anger in the room, made up almost completely of suburban Caucasian males, and I heard a tremendous amount of “cut this, cut that”. I heard policy proposals, most of which were predictable, but I heard nothing at all about how to get there. I heard nothing about the entrenched politics of Albany which are paradoxically united in their dysfunctional polarization. Republican Assemblymen like Jack Quinn can promise whatever they want, but they don’t have to ever deliver on any of it. He’ll get his member item money and dole out big checks and get re-elected. The Senate race is all about which party will gain or retain control of that chamber, because there’s more money being in the majority.

No one said they’d support any specific structural reforms to ensuring that Albany becomes a democratic (small d) representative institution again. Here’s a clue to everyone in that room, including the candidates: unless you make those changes, you can’t take a steamroller or a baseball bat or any other blunt instrument to the Albany party and get anything done. It’s just not set up that way. You are set up for silence, failure, and photo ops. That’s why to me, Cuomo’s proposed agenda is attractive while Paladino’s angry-violent-guy schtick is not.

Innovative ideas like those proposed by Grisanti were the exception rather than the rule at Saturday’s confab, and that’s a shame. You can’t reform substantive Albany policy without a path to get there. None of these attendees had that figured out yet. Jack Quinn the younger – who knows this all too well – could have, but failed, to raise that issue. He’s just asking for a promotion as thanks for doing nothing for the past several years.

Honorable mention goes to Jill Rowland, who gave a speech that was astonishing in its Michele Bachmann/Sarah Palin style of fumfering emptiness. She is running for Congress against Louise Slaughter. Some of her gems:

Our national pride is turning into an international apology“.

She wants government to get out of the way to help businesses and entrepreneurs, adding that communist China “has no capital gains tax“.

Rowland added that the “American dream is turning into an American nightmare” and that government “wants to control every aspect of our lives“. This is right out of the Ostrowski “creeping totalitarianism because of handsfree cell phone laws” playbook of dumb.

Rowland was, however, outdone by Rochester-area candidate Michael Giuliani, whose speaking style is a mix of Emo Phillips and Steven Wright.