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Niagara County Democrats have a new leader.

In the wake of the resignation of Democratic Committee Chair John Jacoby, the party has tapped its committee vice chair, Chris Borgatti, to lead what the party faithful hope will be a resurgence in a county where they hold a significant enrollment advantage. 

Borgatti, 33, who recently resigned from his post with the New York State Department of Labor to begin law school at SUNY Buffalo, took on the chairman's post several weeks ago. He said there will be changes in the committee's approach to elections.

"We trying to bring (the committee) in a new direction," Borgatti said. "We haven't held a majority in the county legislature in 20 years and with the legislature comes power."

Borgatti pointed specifically to the legislature's ability to once again draw the lines for legislature districts as a result of the 2020 Census results. That process will be controlled by a commission with little input from Democrats.

Taking over as the Democratic chair hadn't initially been in Borgatti's plans, but he said Jacoby's resignation made it important for him to step up.

"It's a better fit for me (than Jacoby) right now," Borgatti said. "He told us he wants to focus on his family and his race for the Lewiston Town Board and serving the residents of Lewiston."

Jacoby confirmed that he was stepping away as committee chair to focus on matters closer to home.

"I feel an obligation (as a Lewiston Town Council member) to the people who put me in office," Jacoby said."And I found that between that and the committee work, my family got short-changed."

Jacoby said he reluctantly took the committee post, replacing long-time Democratic chair Jason Zona in September 2020. 

"I told them at the time, I didn't think I was a good fit for the job," Jacoby said with a chuckle. "But I got a lot of help from (Zona and Borgatti)."

While Jacoby said he meet "so many nice people" across the county over the last year, he's ready to turn the party leadership over to Borgatti.

"He's a go-getter," Jacoby said, "and he's the kind of guy you need in that position."

Borgatti said with Democrats holding a roughly 3,000 voter edge in registrations county-wide, he's looking to to energize his base.

"Barack Obama carried Niagara County twice," Brogatti said. "I anticipate (New York Governor) Kathy Hochul doing very well here (in her race for a full term as governor in 2022). As I've gone door to door over the years, I've meet lots of Democrats. I think the residents here are center-right, they are hard-working blue collar folks."

He firmly believes the local Democratic party can attract what have often been referred to as "Reagan Democrats." 

"We're a rural county. What's happening nationally, isn't happening here,"Borgatti said. "We have to re-energize and reinvest. They're out there. Democrats are out there. You have to run competitive races and let democracy play out."

He described the 2021 roster of Democratic county legislature candidates as "dynamic" and "diverse." And he took his opening shot against the GOP majority in the legislature.

"I don't think their record is impressive," Borgatti said. "They only jobs they've grown here in the last 8 to 10 years are government jobs."

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