The hot topics at the county level — casino cash and Mount View — were the focus of our questions as we sat down with the legislative candidates this year. Their answers obviously varied. While we didn’t agree with the stances of some on these touchy topics, we outlined below where each stood and hope you consider those that we endorsed.

7th District

William Boulden: Boulden, retired since 1992, has time for the Legislature. He said the reason he’s running is that there’s a lack of confidence in the county Legislature. His main concern is Mount View. He’s in favor of renovating it but also said after investigation he could move to sell it. He said ignoring the unions isn’t going to settle a contract. Boulden said communication, communication and more communication is key.

Gerald Farnham: Farnham used the cliché “I am not a politician.” But we believe him. In his time on the Legislature, Farnham has moved for infrastructure changes and has looked toward consolidation and identification of when duplication of services can be eliminated. He believes the Legislature shouldn’t keep Mount View open and isn’t for a county golf course.

We choose: Gerald Farnham may say he’s not a politician, and he may not be, per se, but he’s done enough in his time to get our endorsement.

15th District:

Harry Apolito: Incumbent Apolito seems to be truly working to save the taxpayer money. Apolito sponsored a resolution calling for a certificate of compliance before any housing assistance would be paid. The move ensures tenants receiving assistance are living in safe and clean environment. Apolito criticizes the county GOP for taking marching orders from those on the outside of the Legislature. “We’re not as well organized as the Republicans, but I’ll tell you what, we’re not under someone’s thumb.” But we have to disagree with Apolito’s stance to keep Mount View on the county books. While we want the home to thrive, we don’t think it should be at cost to the county taxpayers. Apolito is a hard-line party man, and we have a problem with his “us against them” mentality that serves no useful purpose in an already divided group.

Scott Cercone: Cercone has proven in his tenure on the Lockport Common Council that he isn’t afraid to tackle the tough issues or get his hands dirty. He admits that when you make decisions, not everyone is going to love you. He has represented his city constituents well over the years and is very accessible. He speaks his mind without causing animosity and will stand up for his convictions, whether they follow party lines or not. In a legislative body that suffers from extreme partisan politics as well as a deep divide between the eastern and western ends of the county, we believe Cercone will be strong representative for his district.

We choose: Scott Cercone gets our endorsement. His stance that the county can’t be in the nursing home business encourages us.

16th District:

Glenn Aronow: Aronow’s biggest asset is that he’s visible. He serves on four of six committees and is no stranger to being seen or heard from. Although Aronow has had some good ideas since joining the Legislature, most notably the elimination of the lifetime health insurance benefits for legislators and having them pay a co-pay for health insurance, he also is a very divisive factor on an already explosive Legislature. On this very page, not long ago, Aronow tried to make dirty hay of McNall’s school board service — which in our opinion has been distinguished and community-minded for all of the 17 years he’s done it at zero pay. Aronow claims of McNall family employment favors owed to his board standing are patently false and, had he done his homework, he’d know it. As for the Lockport school tax rate, Lockport’s school district has held overall spending increases to less than 1.5 percent for the past three years. Aronow can’t say the same about Niagara County.

Wm. Keith McNall: McNall promises to try to be a unifying factor in a sorely divided Legislature. McNall has a proven record after serving for 17 years on the Lockport City Board of Education and he will bring this experience with him to the Legislature. He also has experience dealing with union contracts, which should help with the negotiations with the county unions that have been working without a contract for three years. He made a bold decision in challenging a fellow Republican. After being ignored by the county GOP committee, he turned to the Democrats for assistance. We say good. It’s about time somebody echoed the message, “it’s not about the party.” The fact that McNall’s candidacy has been counseled equally by Republican and Democratic supporters speaks well of his judgment. We do not agree with every stance McNall has taken on the “hot” issues this year — casino cash, Mount View and the like — but we agree wholeheartedly with his assessment of the current Legislature: it’s partisan nearly to the point of paralysis and some of the players have to change.

We choose: Decency, fairness and a proven ability to bring clashing sides together are the hallmarks of McNall’s school board service. We think the county Legislature could use a good dose of the same. We endorse McNall.

17th District

Joseph Chiappone: Chiappone is unprepared to take on a job in the Legislature. He hasn’t done any homework on county issues and has no ideas about where the county is going or how it should get there. The fact that he has the backing of the Democratic party and has been endorsed by the CSEA union should be a source of shame for both groups. Chiappone, who said he’s not worried about stepping on toes, admitted that he’s running on a bet. After consulting with friends, they challenged him to run, and that’s the one reason, we believe, you will see him on the ballot Tuesday.

Rick Updegrove: As an Editorial Board we back his taxpayer initiatives. The reinstatement of a sales tax holiday, his vote to eliminate legislator health care and some patronage. We also agree with him when he says fringe benefits in contracts are out of control. In his first term he has established a sheriff’s outpost at the Woodlands. We hope he can continue his efforts in these areas.

We choose: Richard Updegrove gets our endorsement for a second term on the Legislature.

19th District

Michael Hill: Hill and Villella both have the county, and specifically their district, at heart. That’s what makes this endorsement one of the toughest. Hill has some new ideas, like an audit of take-home vehicles for county employees. He wants to see if all vehicles are being used as best they can. He understands that if taxes have to be raised, which he believes has to occur almost every year because of state and federal mandates, it has to be manageable. Hill said he would never support closing Mt. View, but would support selling it. He said there’s no reason the county should be competing against other nursing homes in the area.

John Villella: Coming up just 137 votes short two years ago, Villella has a lot going for him. The fact that he’s stayed active for the last two years and is giving it another run is encouraging. Villella is calling for unification of the 19 legislators, a move we admire but highly doubt is possible. He would work with the town officials, which, in a county like Niagara, has to be done because of the strong Niagara Falls influence.

We choose: With a slighter edge, Mike Hill is our choice in a race that pits two strong candidates with good positive energy.

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