Niagara Gazette

Opinion

October 20, 2013

GUEST VIEW: Getting Niagara County government back on track

Niagara Gazette — As I’ve gone door to door the past several months as the Democratic candidate for legislator of the First District, I’ve noticed that many of our voters are unclear as to how county government fits into their lives.

This lack of informed voters is more the fault of county government rather than the fault of the county voters. That’s because over the past decade our county government has become a “done deal” with the majority party grabbing the reins of leadership and holding tight. Politics is politics and to victor go the spoils, so I’m not going to criticize the Republican Party for their success in controlling our county government. The fact is that the Democratic Party has failed to keep the Democratic-Republican balance in the legislature even close.

But the truth is that one-party control at any level of government is never a good thing. Close competition generates ideas, debate, and produces positive results. When the system is heavily overloaded in one direction debate and information sharing is shut down.

For example our Republican-led legislature has worked to discourage public comment at legislative meetings. Discouraging public input runs counter to the American ideals of good, honest government. It creates public distrust of our elected officials and stops the dialog between voter and politician.

Economic development means jobs and a growing local economy. However, I’m concerned that our Industrial Development Agency has, upon occasion, seen development projects as an end in themselves with the taxpayers getting lost in the shuffle. A recent state report put Niagara County near the very top for taking land off the tax rolls through its IDA. Because of this I support reviewing the IDA and producing a credible cost to benefit analysis so we can see how these projects impact the county taxpayer bottom line. We all want business, we all want job creation, but not at a negative cost to county residents.

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