By Bob Restaino
Niagara Gazette — For most of my adult life I have been active in the civic affairs of our community. I’ve served on a variety of volunteer boards as well as holding public office. This past year, I chose to become a candidate for the New York State Assembly from the 145th District.
With over 50,000 votes cast for state Assembly, unfortunately, I fell short by 1.5 percent of the vote. Though I was disappointed at the results, the number of people who believed in our campaign’s message of more cost-efficient government and the need to capitalize on our location to create jobs encourages me. Because of this, while I have accepted the decision of the voters, I’m convinced that I have a role to play in articulating those issues most important to Western New York.
For decades, the economy of New York state, especially that of Western New York, has been under attack by the forces of globalization. I met people whose jobs had been outsourced or whose companies had left the area altogether. I met people who were beginnimg to question our area’s ability to compete against the low-cost labor in foreign markets. I met people who were tired of the old fashioned and outdated answer that government was the problem. Instead, they want government that wil find a solution.
Our campaign presented a comprehensive plan, which would make it more attractive for businesses to relocate here and for current businesses to expand. We can accomplish this by improving the infrastructure that would capitalize on the $70 billion in merchandise trade between the United States and Canada. When this is linked with the Niagara Falls International Airport, the development of new business opportunities, from warehousing to commercial transport, could foster hundreds of good--paying jobs.
Reducing the cost of government will also improve the economic development climate here in Western New York. Our campaign was the only campaign that presented a real proposal that would lower the cost of Medicaid without hurting those people in need. By structuring the Medicaid program similar to other health insurance programs, New York state taxpayers could save millions of dollars each year. In Niagara County, the reduction would cut Medicaid costs by $2.7 million per year.
Now that the campaign has ended, I also would like to express my appreciation to the many dedicated volunteers who helped me deliver our message throughout the campaign. Some gave their time walking with me in neighborhoods from May through October, others marched in parades, including the rain-soaked Peach Festival Parade in September. I cannot forget those volunteers who went out and put up my signs at the homes of over 2,000 people who were gracious enough to request one, and those volunteers who distributed my literature throughout the district. Also, it was always overwhelming to me when I would go into our headquarters after going door-to-door in the district and see the number of people writing letters to friends, making phone calls to voters or filling out postcards. Thanks to all of you who gave up your time throughout the summer and fall. It was nice to have the opportunity to get reacquainted with old friends and make new ones. I can’t tell you how much your effort, kind words and support meant to my family and me.
Finally, I am especially grateful to the voters of Niagara County who gave me what I had hoped would be the margin of victory. The outcome of this election does not diminish my commitment to the ideas upon which our campaign was based, nor will it cause me to dismiss these ideas in favor of the more simplistic solutions we often hear from Albany. The outcome of this election has actually further convinced me of the need to continue advancing these ideas so that state government can help create the opportunities that we all need.
On behalf of myself and my family, I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy 2013.Robert Restaino is a resident of Niagara Falls.