Niagara Gazette — United Steelworker Union Local 9434-1 President Chris Ferrante believes he's the correct choice for the Niagara County Legislature's First District.
A Lewiston resident, Ferrante has announced his intent to run and is seeking the endorsement of the Democratic party.
He said Clyde Burmaster, the Republican incumbent, has held the district's seat for more than 20 years and has recently come under fire for his frequent travel out of the area and a somewhat laid-back approach to constituent concerns.
"Clyde is part of a well-entrenched Republican machine and I have a tough road ahead of me," he said. "But I'm up to the challenge. The First District needs a responsive legislator, a legislator who is directly in touch with the district residents."
Ferrante, 54, has never sought elected public office before.
The makeup of the current county Legislature has the Democratic Party operating at a severe disadvantage as they hold only three of the 15 legislative seats.
It's a disadvantage he said he's looking to help eliminate because the legislature's accountability to taxpayers has decreased with more Republicans at the table.
"I'm anxious to play a part in the return of the county Democratic Party and the best way to guarantee that return is to take back the legislature," he said. "The Republican legislature has downplayed public input into county government and operates as if they don't have to listen to the taxpayers. This has to change."
Ferrante, who works as a Control Maintenance Instrument Technician at the Niagara Falls Wastewater Plant, also addressed taxes, which he said have hit the First District particularly hard. In addition, he said, a large landfill is also located within the district which needs some serious concerns addressed.
"We're one of the highest taxed counties in the nation," he said. "My legislative district is dealing with all of the problems that come with being home to a landfill, and we're not receiving either the time or the attention that's required to address these very serious issues.
In his free time, Ferrante, a Niagara Falls native, is a 20-year member of the Niagara Sportsmen's Club and has served as a hockey coach for Grand Niagara. He is a certified Level 4 coach.
He and his wife, Theresa, have been married for 28 years and have a son, Chris. They moved to Lewiston 15 years ago.