The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

Local News

November 1, 2012

Maziarz vs. Witryol, round II in senate race

Medina Journal-Register — When the three counties that make up the 62nd state senate district are in “last place” in certain economic indicators, is that an indictment of its long-serving senator?

Amy Hope Witryol, the Democratic candidate for senate who’s again taking on powerhouse Republican incumbent George D. Maziarz, thinks it is.

In housing values and percentage of value paid in property taxes, Niagara, Orleans and Monroe counties rank as the three worst, meaning highest taxed, counties in the United States.

People who buy homes here need more time to pay off their mortgages, and in retirement their “nest eggs” are less valuable.

Despite the Niagara Power Project operating right in the district’s front yard, residents pay some of the highest electric rates in the country.

The current unemployment rate is 8.5 percent in Niagara County and 9.9 percent in Orleans County; only three other counties in the state fare as bad or worse than Orleans.

Is Maziarz, the 18-year incumbent, responsible for these signs of the district’s ill health?

No, not directly, and not single-handedly, Witryol, a retired banking executive, conceded in a meeting of the candidates and the US&J Editorial Board this week.

But Maziarz does bear a share of blame, as a participant of New York’s “pay to play” political system, she argues. It’s pay-to-play that’s kept the 62nd down despite its economic assets — hydropower, fertile farmland, proximity to Lake Ontario, heritage holdings, et cetera — she said.

“When you’re on the bottom ... it says to me that we’ve got somebody in office who could be doing a better job on the economic front for us,” Witryol said. “It’s a failed record, in my view.”

Maziarz, who’s served in the senate since 1995, says his record shows anything but failure.

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