Niagara Gazette

Columns

April 4, 2014

HAMILTON: Quarterback Congressman Jack Kemp and the art of perspective

Niagara Gazette — We all must come from someplace, and we all do. Both quarterback Jack Kemp and I did; and then we met together on a stage at the University of Buffalo. The meeting was probably not like you might have suspected.

Kemp came to mind, again, when I received an email from Carl Paladino, the owner of the old United Office Building, now the upscale Giacomo Hotel. Paladino said that they will be holding the annual Jack Kemp Tribute Dinner on March 29, and I might want to be there.

I did, as I had a great deal of respect for Kemp as a HUD secretary. Like me, he believed in home ownership.

Personally, I also believe that we should have representation at every table where there is the possibility that someone is going to sit and talk about our destinies — even if I have to be there myself. Too often, that is the case, as it was in Buffalo that day.

The year was 1996 and Sen. Bob Dole and Congressman/quarterback Jack Kemp were running for the presidency and vice-presidency of the United States. I was running for a seat in the New York state Senate, and we all were running on the Republican line.

Now, before you all bet your undies in a bunch, former Democratic County Legislator Renae Kimble ran for the same seat and on the same line as did I; only she did so immediately after I did so, and her district kept re-electing her.

As could be expected, there were not very many African-Americans in the audience; however, because Kemp was the quarterback during the initial years of the Buffalo Bills, many of the Bills alumna were present, and some of them were black. I also ran into Jim Kelly there, but only after I felt his looming presence behind me.

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