Campaigns heat up after summer

Come Tuesday, the day after the final summer holiday, candidates will begin an even greater push for public office. First comes the primary elections, which take place Sept. 9, followed by Election Day on Nov. 4.

Locally, Family Court candidates are vying for nominations. The four seeking the post include: Sally Jaroszynski, Jeffrey Piazza, James Spann and Michael Sullivan. Those voting as Democrat, Republican, Conservative or Working Family will have an opportunity to choose one of those four.

We already know, however, some other November races worth watching. Years ago, many voted for a person due to their strengths. Present times, however, prove you acknowledge the flaws of the candidate and vote for the one with the fewest.

Here is a primer on those contests:

U.S. Representative, Congressional District 23 of New York state – Incumbent Tom Reed is in a battle with Martha Robertson, who is chairwoman of the Tompkins County Legislature. Robertson got this race started very early – April 2013 to be exact – after a strong showing by Nate Shinagawa in the 2012 contest.

Robertson, a Democrat, has shown up at a number of important events in this county in the past year. Not only did she drive through a December snowstorm to be part of the announcement to repower NRG in Dunkirk by state Gov. Andrew Cuomo, she also attended a rally to save Lake Shore Hospital and the Fredonia event of support for Carriage House workers who will be displaced once the plant closes later.

Reed, who additionally backed the NRG repowering and has been front and center with the Carriage House issue, is the Republican candidate. He also has been a major factor in dredging plans for Barcelona, Dunkirk and Hanover.

In what has been a nasty race so far, both candidates have inaccurate messages. Robertson’s camp continues to incorrectly call Reed a millionaire. That item does not match with a recent article in The Buffalo News, which put his wealth at around $600,000. Reed does draws ire for consistent minor mistakes, such as paying personal bills using a campaign checkbook or having campaign literature saying Robertson did not back the NRG project.

This campaign will continue to capture plenty of local and national attention.

State Assembly, 150th District – Newcomer Barrie Yochim of Jamestown is taking on incumbent and former Chautauqua County Executive Andrew Goodell.

Yochim, endorsed by the Democrats, is the executive director of Meals on Wheels of Chautauqua County. If elected, Yochim said he will treat his position as a full-time job and aims to increase state funding for education.

For Goodell, this is his third challenge. He defeated Nancy Bargar in 2010 and Rudy Mueller in 2012. He also was a vital player in the repowering of NRG. His speech, more like a cross-examination, was super at the historic Public Service Commission hearing in July 2013 in the Williams Center.

So far, this race has been on the quiet side even though both are reaching out to their supporters. Look for increased chatter after the primary.

Chautauqua County sheriff – Let’s get one thing straight before getting into the candidates for this office. This race is not about the SAFE Act, which contains a number of firearms provisions. The SAFE Act is state legislation. Whoever wins in November has no control over this law.

Incumbent Joseph Gerace has put forth numerous regional initiatives during his five terms as sheriff, including work on a radio system and efforts with the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force. He also has taken over a greater area of patrol with the elimination of the Police Department in Silver Creek. That effort, for all intents and purposes, has been a success. Silver Creek has saved money while increased information on illegal activity – formerly never reported by the village agency – have come from sheriff patrols.

Challenger Russell Payne insinuates Gerace will not work with other area agencies and has called for central police services. In a press release last week, he notes: “All of these agencies would be working together in an attempt to improve law enforcement and fire services throughout the county while, at the same time, avoiding the costly duplication of those services.”

That’s a misleading statement. If more than one law-enforcement agency is at the table – and there would be at least seven different departments in this case – then there already is a “costly duplication” of services.

You cannot reduce expenses while allowing the status quo to grow.

John D’Agostino is the OBSERVER publisher. Send comments to or call 366-3000, ext. 401.