BY BILL WOLCOTT firstname.lastname@example.org
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The 10th District of the Niagara County Legislature, which includes Wilson, Cambria and part of Wheatfield, has two candidates vying for a two-year term as legislator: David Godfrey and Chris Srock.
Godfrey, a Marine veteran who is endorsed by the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties, is seeking his third term of office.
Srock calls himself a moderate Democrat who is socially progressive and has fiscally conservative views. He ran an unsuccessful campaign to unseat state Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, in 2006, and has never held public office.
Godfrey, who serves on 11 county committees, frequently attends town board meetings to give updates on county issues. The primary issue on his agenda is the Niagara Falls Air Base.
”One of the greatest challenges is defending the airbase and airport,” he said. “Without the airbase, the airport would not survive because of the shared services that the military provides.”
The 1,000-acre base has 1,000 employees and a $200 million impact on the county, according to Godfrey. Local businesses supply it and the airport. The military shared with Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority the cost of having the Niagara Falls International Airport runway redone.
Godfrey said that he is working closely with the Principi Group, a county-hired consultant, to identify more missions and more funding for the base, which houses the 914th Air Reserve Station and the 107th Airlift Wing medical group, the processing center for all branches of the armed forces. A rebranded base would be known as a Joint Operation Center.
“We want to give them as much work as we can on that base,” said Godfrey.
Godfrey also has been actively pursuing harbor dredging in Wilson and the fight to maintain Lake Ontario water levels. He’s been a leader of the county’s emergency radio system upgrading/narrowbanding project.
Born in Lockport, Godfrey moved to Wilson after service with the Marine Corps from 1965 to 1969. He has more than 40 years of work experience in business-enabling Information Technology including biometrics, forensics and wireless infrastructures. He has served on the Eastern Niagara Hospital board of directors and with Wilson Volunteer Fire Company No. 1.
Srock, 33, has a degree in archaeology from the University at Buffalo. He’s been laid off from his job as a worker at Tuscarora State Park since the end of 2010 and is presently a stay-at-home dad. He and his wife, Dawn, have four children, ages 13, 5, 3 and 4 months. He’s also a fire captain with Wilson Volunteer Fire Co. No. 1.
Srock’s campaign website pounds on national issues that strike a chord with most Americans, but he said he has also been knocking on doors in Wilson, Cambria and Wheatfield to make himself known to voters, talk about local issues and let people know where he stands.
He says he wants to end “corporate welfare,” that is, Payment In Lieu Of Taxes agreements, and reform the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency. He notes that the county legislature appoints the IDA board chairman (as well as the members), and thinks the board has for some time been giving large tax breaks for small gains in local employment and economic activity.
“It’s driving taxes up and making it hard for everybody to live,” Srock said. “I want to put someone in who has business savvy (and) will stop giving out tax abatements recklessly that create zero to few jobs. The purpose of tax abatements is to create jobs that increase the revenue base.”
“There are a few PILOTs that are promising. Ninety percent do nothing for us,” he added.
Niagara County needs to shed its “Most Taxed in the USA” status and finally see some real benefit from being the home of the Niagara Power Project, Srock said. Despite the fact that hydropower is being made here, he asserts, residents are paying the second-highest electricity rate in the United States — 17 cents per kilowatt hour, compared to 7 cents in some southern states.
Srock says he would start with a resolution at the local level and try to talk with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
”The (New York) Power Authority’s 50-year contract created the (Niagara River) Greenway but didn’t do anything for the residents,” he said. “Everyone should get a break instead of choice organizations.”
Srock, a union steward, is endorsed by the Teamsters Union and United Auto Workers. Going into the general election, he has the Democratic, Working Families and Green Party ballot lines, the latter of which he won by write-in votes in a September primary contest with Godfrey.