Niagara Gazette — Bill Ross is one of the longest tenured and, arguably, most recognizable members of the Niagara County Legislature.
His challenger in this year’s 2nd District legislative race is Sean O’Laughlin, a 57-year-old political newcomer who believes guys like Ross have had their time and now is the time to usher in a new era of leadership in county government.
“I’m frustrated with what’s been going on in Niagara County,” said O’Laughlin, the nephew of former Niagara Falls Mayor Michael O’Laughlin. “I figured I’d give it a shot to see if I could change something.”
Ross has served in either appointed or elected office locally for 40 years, with 28 of those involving stints as a town councilman and, later, county lawmaker. He has served as chairman of the legislature - one of the top legislative posts - nearly every year since 2004.
He views his experience as a plus, arguing that the county has done more with less during his tenure while promoting economic development and consolidation efforts, including a reduction in the body itself from 19 to 15 members. He said he’s running again because he wants to continue efforts to trim the size of county government, reduce spending and control property taxes.
In recent years, Ross said he and other members of the Republican-led majority have not only reduced the total number of county employees at a savings to taxpayers, but took other steps to cut costs, including selling off the old Mount View facility at a savings of about $1 million per year.
“We don’t just talk smaller government. We did it,” Ross said.
“We’ve done a lot, not enough because of the state mandates out there, but we have been able to maintain essential services,” he added. “We have done more with less and as long as I’m up here, we will continue to move in that direction.”