West Virginia University, English
Experience and Qualifications
I was a journalist for 22 years, covering politics and other issues important to our community. I have been a county legislator for the past 6 years, serving suburban, urban and rural communities, giving me an understanding of the expectations of county government from several points of view.
Generally speaking my primary focus is to seek the endorsement of the residents of the 9th district.
First challenge was to raise awareness, to understand the magnitude of this epidemic. Next, remove the stigma. We must treat it like a disease, & educate the public, not just on the risks associated with use, but the impact on families & communities. We have committed funds for recovery, counseling & Narcan training. We are working with drug courts and DA to treat the addict as someone with an illness rather than as a criminal, while approving funding for the DA to get tougher on drug dealers.
We need a better maintenance program. Too many roadways are ignored until they are in terrible shape, requiring significant work. We can't ignore deteriorating roadways for years; we need to invest in them regularly. In the district I represent, erosion along Old Lake Shore Road is definitely a priority and an issue I have brought to the attention of federal agencies. I have also been pushing for expediting work on Lake Avenue in Blasdell and Versailles in Hamburg, among many other roadways.
I sponsored a resolution urging Congress to maintain funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to continue its success. I also support and promote the county's drug take back program which encourages residents to properly dispose of medications and to NOT flush drugs into our waterways. This is in addition to voting in favor of the county's Microbead Law to stop another hazard from being washed into our water supply.
I think the county's fiscal situation is the most important overall issue. Costs continue to rise for Erie County and we're over reliant on certain revenues. We need to be smart and efficient.
I sent a letter with 89 other upstate Legislators asking the Governor to discuss this exact issue, seeking mandate reform. Unfortunately, to date, we have received no response. Right now, the issue is out of our hands. NYS mandates what we pay, and that accounts for about 90% of what we collect through county property taxes. Erie County will continue to advocate to state leaders for change and relief, but this is under state control.
JD, University at Buffalo Law School
Bachelor's Degree, University at Buffalo
Associate's Degree, Erie Community College
Frontier High School
Experience and Qualifications
Infantry Paratrooper, 82nd Airborne Division, Member of Ironworkers Local 6, Partner at Collins & Collins Attorneys, Senior Hamburg Town Councilman.
Experience as Councilman:
Fought to secure agreement finalizing Hamburg Quiet Zones.
Proposed and passed legislation protecting town construction workers.
Passed resolution ensuring affordable housing for town residents in new apartment projects.
WNY Area Labor Federation, Erie County Democrats, UAW Regional 9, CSEA 816, School House Democrats
The county can most effectively address this problem through a wide reaching combination of treatment, outreach, family services, and reducing overprescription. I support the county’s opioid task force, which is identifying the county’s needs and capacity. The recent $500,000 in grants announced by the county is a start, but I was disappointed that the Legislature’s majority dragged its feet in appropriating the funds. I support a minimum of $1,000,000 in grants for community organizations.
Our county roads are crumbling. With state-provided resources stretched thin, we must a) devote more county resources to maintenance and resurfacing, and b) examine sharing resources with local governments. Additionally, public transportation must be shored up. Bus routes, for example, in Lackawanna’s First Ward, are woefully inadequate. We should study the needs of the NFTA, and if necessary, provide further local funding.
Anytime the county experiences significant rainfall, untreated sewage is discharged into creeks and rivers, and communities suffer through frequent water main breaks from aging pipes. The state recently committed $2.5 billion to water infrastructure projects. Erie County can do more than it currently is to take advantage of this windfall. To complement this funding, Erie County can also increase its local share of infrastructure funding.
We have to maintain and expand our economic growth, ensuring that all are able to share in its benefits. With numerous new jobs coming online, we need to do all we can to ensure access to these jobs is available to all through workforce training programs. The county should work with businesses and unions to help facilitate training for the skills employers require. Transportation, like bus routes through the NFTA, must be improved so that all residents can get to where the jobs are.
Fraud remains a problem, and the County should be aggressive in identifying fraud, stopping it, and recouping funds. We should support the creation of community health centers, which offer quality care at prices lower than hospital ERs. These centers save money from reduced emergency room visits, and serve as a primary care facility, continuously monitoring Medicaid recipients’ health care, managing complex diseases and health issues before they grow into more dangerous, and costly, issues.