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SEP 02- SEP 09, 2014

Destino Awaits Winner of GOP Primary

By Tony Farina

September 02, 2014

Johnny Destino and Niagara Falls School Board President, and local businessman, Russell Petrozzi.

After next week's (Tuesday) GOP primary between North Tonawanda Mayor Robert Ortt and Gia Arnold of Orleans County, the race will begin in earnest to see who replaces long-time political powerhouse and patronage king George Maziarz, who is leaving office at the end of the year in the face of a federal investigation into his use of campaign funds.

Maziarz, long seen as unbeatable in the 62nd District which includes all of Niagara and Orleans counties and two towns in western Monroe County, will ride off into an uncertain sunset and his replacement will be decided in the November general election.

It would appear that Ortt is a heavy favorite to defeat Arnold in next week's GOP primary, as Arnold, a married mother of three, dropped out of the race briefly after announcing she had a one-night extramarital encounter and appears unlikely to spring an upset against Ortt, a favorite of the Maziarz camp.

Meanwhile, it appears Niagara Falls attorney Johnny Destino, the endorsed Democratic candidate, is off to a strong start in his bid to help the Democrats gain control of the state senate and complete work on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (assuming he's re-elected) so-called Buffalo Billion initiative that is focused on economic development and job creation in Western New York.

Last Wednesday (Aug. 27), a Destino fundraiser ($30) at Bond Lake in Ransomville attracted close to 300 supporters and signaled, according to Niagara County Democratic Chairman Nick Forster, that his efforts at uniting the party behind Destino's candidacy are paying dividends.

Destino's own platform places heavy emphasis on jobs and economic development, and he's also taking aim at ending what he calls the heavy-handed political rule of the Maziarz team over the last two decades that he says has favored a few at the expense of many with no relief on taxes or energy costs.

Destino and Forster last week took aim at Lockport's fiscal crisis where City Treasurer Michael White, Maziarz's brother-in-law, was singled out in a highly critical state audit that blamed White for much of the city's financial meltdown that could result in tax increases and other measures that could impact the city for years to come.

The Lockport Union-Sun & Journal called on White to resign after auditors, who found the city's books a mess, said the city's operating deficit will balloon to nearly $4.6 million by the end of the year.

"White has been a disaster and continues to be a disaster," said Chairman Forster, who said White was handpicked for the job by Maziarz. "That's part of the legacy that George is leaving behind, a bankrupt city, and the price will be paid by the residents of that city."

On Thursday, the day after his Bond Lake fundraiser, Destino greeted former Rep. Kathy Hochul at his Pine Ave. headquarters as Hochul, Gov. Cuomo's handpicked candidate for lieutenant governor, made a stop in Niagara Falls where she did a walking tour of downtown development projects with local and state officials including Mayor Paul Dyster.

She later joined Dyster, City Councilman Bob Anderson, and many other prominent local figures at the Destino headquarters where she told the gathering that "we need Johnny Destino in Albany so we can continue the work that Gov. Cuomo has started" in rebuilding Niagara Falls and the entire region.

"It has been a great week," said Destino, "and I'm very grateful for Kathy Hochul, who has served this region so well as a council member, a county clerk and a member of the House of Representatives, to take the time to come to my headquarters and support my candidacy during her busy campaign for lieutenant governor. I would ask my fellow Democrats to get behind her candidacy and help us build a strong working group in Albany that will help our region continue its rebirth."





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