Niagara Gazette

October 27, 2013

GUEST VIEW: Focusing on issues, not negative campaigning

By Jason Zona
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — As another campaign season draws to a close, we are afforded with the opportunity to look back at the last six months and reflect on the road that has been traveled. My road this campaign can be summarized in one word: predictable. When I originally embarked on my reelection campaign, I predicted that I would be the victim of a barrage of personal attacks and mudslinging. So not surprisingly, I must say I was correct in my prediction. Obviously, not one of the vicious accusations raised against me was proven to be true.

Throughout the negative campaign that my opponent and his shady political handlers conducted, they failed to discuss a single issue or solution to the problems facing local government. Despite the false accusations, and mudslinging, I continued to devote my campaign to the issues and my plans to improve Niagara County.

Why would they opt to attack me personally instead of running a campaign based on the solutions to the problems that plague our county? Very simply, when they run on the issues, they lose and they are satisfied with the status quo!

In 2011, the Republican Legislative Majority appointed my opponent to the Legislature, for an approximate two-month term. During his two months in office, my opponent voted to raise our taxes which were already the highest county taxes in the entire country, an

additional 4 percent. His 2011 budget also included pay raises for elected officials, it raided our reserve funds, and froze contractual step increases for low waged county workers. He even voted against measurers to eliminate wasteful political patronage positions and special interest consultant contracts.

When questioned about his 2011 tax and spend budget, Guilio Colangelo defended himself stating that the budget was “pre-determined.” (See Buffalo News article dated May 11, 2013). This should come to nobody’s surprise. It should also come to nobody’s surprise that they would avoid the issues facing our county during the campaign.

It is no secret that I am nobody’s “yes man” or rubber stamp, nor am I beholden to any political boss or special interest. My record is proof that I will never accept anything that was “pre-determined.” In just one term as your legislator, I presented a budget without a property tax increase. I proposed legislation that would cut wasteful spending, political patronage positions and consultant contracts. I fought against and stopped the majority’s practice of awarding no bid contracts that were reserved for their biggest campaign contributors. I led that charge in preparing and passing welfare reform measures, and just last week, the IDA reforms I presented were approved. We also brought to light questionable dealings involving our county landfill, which resulted in major changes to the refuse district budget that will save taxpayers annually. Again, this was all in my first term as your county legislator.

Because I am such a strong advocate for our residents, I am a natural target of the Legislative Majority and their shady political gang. My opponent is beholden to Sen. Maziarz and the powerful special interests that fund his constant negative attacks against me. Niagara County does not need another elected official that is beholden to the Maziarz political machine. We need elected officials that have a plan to grow the tax base in Niagara County, and understand the need to reduce county expenses.

The only way to lower taxes is to trim the fat of county government. That means we have to eliminate the friends and family job program of our Legislative Majority Caucus. We do not need 72 attorneys that work for Niagara County. We do not need the levels of patronage that we have. We do not need to give sweetheart deals to campaign contributors. We need elected officials that will fight to change the status quo!

I fully expect, for the remainder of this race, the attacks will continue and the issues that plague our county will be pushed into the background. But be assured, as your legislator, I will not engage in a negative campaign. I will continue to run on my record, and if elected to a second term, I will continue to fight for the overtaxed residents and businesses in Niagara County. The status quo is unacceptable.

Legislator Jason A. Zona serves the Fifth District of the Niagara County Legislature.

Legislator Jason A. Zona serves the Fifth District of the Niagara County Legislature.