Niagara Gazette — Robert Restaino has had it with negative campaigning.
The Democratic candidate for the 145th state Assembly district went defensive Thursday, calling out the state Republican committee and his Republican challenger, Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-Lewiston, after a general mailer attacking Restaino's past showed up in mailboxes throughout the district.
"I was hoping this campaign would focus on the issues instead of being sidetracked by stuff like this," Restaino said. "I'm not a wallflower. I'm not afraid to fight. I'm going to bring the fight to the Senecas. I'm going to work to convince Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo to come to Niagara Falls to see what we're dealing with here. I feel this position needs a little passion."
The mailer, paid for by the Republican committee, uses images from 2005 when Restaino, then a judge in the city, arrested an entire courtroom because a cell phone was ringing. He was removed from his position in 2008 following a state Commission on Judicial Review, something he said he's come to terms with.
The front of the large, folding mailer reproduces terminology the commission used in its eight-page decision removing Restaino, calling him a petty tyrant. Inside, news headlines are reproduced, including a story published in the Niagara Gazette.
"Rob Restaino was one of the very few judges to be fired from his job by an ethics oversight committee," the mailer says. "The committee said he 'abused judicial power' and placed 46 people in police custody for hours because they happened to be in his courtroom when a cell phone went off."
But Restaino said the cell phone incident he's become known for is part of an overall problem resulting in a lack of respect among people.
He said he grew up in a time when people showed more respect to teachers, parents, judges and others in authority positions.