Niagara Gazette — A candidate in this year’s race for the Niagara County Legislature’s 3rd District seat on Thursday challenged his opponent to explain why a mailer delivered to Niagara Falls voters this week suggested he “ducked” a recent debate when, in reality, she knew he missed the event due to a scheduling error by its moderator.
Mark Grozio, a Democrat who is challenging incumbent Republican Legislator Cheree Copelin in the district covering the LaSalle section of the city, characterized the unattributed mailer, which suggested he “couldn’t be bothered” to attend this week’s candidates forum, as “exactly the kind of politics that the people of LaSalle are sick of dealing with.”
“I’m a firm believer, with these fliers, that if you don’t put your name on them, they shouldn’t be printed,” Grozio said.
Both Copelin and Grozio were invited to attend a candidates forum held Monday at the Earl W. Brydges Library in Niagara Falls. What was expected to be a one-on-one debate as part of a larger discussion involving all of the candidates involved in Falls-area legislative races ended up being a one-sided affair where Copelin stood alone to offer her positions on various issues.
While the mailer suggested Grozio deliberately failed to attend, in reality, he was unable to do so due to a conflict with a previous speaking engagement before the Niagara County Sheriff’s Association.
Grozio said he was not notified about the debate until several days after the other participants were invited and, by that point, had already scheduled the meeting with the sheriff’s association. Event moderator Ken Hamilton admitted Monday to an error in scheduling on his part that caused Grozio to be unable to attend.
Reached by telephone Thursday evening, Copelin said she did not support the contents of the mailer, hadn’t read it and did not know who distributed it. Copelin said she respected Grozio and she understood the situation surrounding the conflict that prevented him from attending the debate.
“I knew nothing about it ahead of time,” she said. “I have not seen it. The mailer is not from me.”
When asked if what she thought of an anonymous source distributed a mailer of that nature on behalf of her campaign, Copelin said that while she appreciates support, she prefers to focus on running a clean and positive campaign.
“I can run on my own merit,” she said.
Grozio said he is also trying to run on his own merits and hopes the candidates will be able to focus on the issues facing Niagara Falls and Niagara County from here on out.
“I’ve run a clean campaign and I’ve stuck to the issues,” Grozio said.