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Coalition for Economic Justice Queries State Senate Candidates | Politics

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Coalition for Economic Justice Queries State Senate Candidates

BUFFALO, N.Y. - The Coalition for Economic Justice is a Buffalo-based non-profit organization that runs local and statewide campaigns for quality jobs and greater accountability in economic development.

As an extension of our campaign programming we engage in public education efforts and also register new voters, encourage occasional voters to become more active participants in our democracy, and provide all voters with information about where candidates stand on our issues.

We are a non-partisan organization and do not endorse or oppose candidates but do seek to promote active, open public discussion on critical issues facing our community and the state of New York.

In a time of deep economic recession, escalating poverty and political turmoil, public discourse and sound leadership are more important than ever. To this extent, our Coalition is producing a voter guide, to ensure that Erie Country residents can make an educated choice when they enter the voting booth.

The voter guide lists candidates for State Senate races in the 58th, 59th, 60th, and 61st districts. Questionnaires were sent to those candidates in contested races. Candidate replies are printed without editing or verification. Due to space restrictions, candidates were given strict word limits. Replies exceeding the word limit are indicated by slashes (///). Candidates were also asked to avoid references to their opponents. Candidates who did not respond are not included.

Results of the survey of the three candidates for the 61st district are printed below. For the complete voter guide, visit the Coalition for Economic Justice website.

61st District: Tonawanda, Amherst, Clarence, Newstead, parts of Wyoming County

Question 1: In a time of economic crisis, sound political leadership is more important than ever. What training and experiences qualify you for this office? (no more than 75 words)

Question 2: A recent Quinnipiac University poll shows that four out of five state voters feel like NYS government is dysfunctional. This is the highest measure of public dissatisfaction in the survey's 20 year history. Over the last two years New Yorkers have witnessed scandals at the legislative and gubernatorial level, a deepening fiscal crisis, and serious power battles in the Senate. What measures would you support to promote greater public accountability in state government and restore public trust? (no more than 150 words)

Question 3: The State’s two main engines of economic development, Industrial Development Agencies and Empire Zones, have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, with changes to the Empire Zone program now imminent. How should these programs be changed or overhauled to better target the state’s economic development resources? (no more than 150 words)

Question 4: According to the Department of Labor, over one-third of the workers in the Greater Buffalo area are earning annual salaries of less than $26,000, with a great percentage of these workers earning less than $20,000. The poverty crisis that our region is facing in both our urban and rural communities is in part a result of the prevalence of low-wage work in our local economy. What policies or programs would you propose or support to ensure good jobs for Western New Yorkers? (no more than 150 words)

Marc Coppola (D)

Executive of the NYS Division of Parole


Top Priorities for New York:

- On-Time Budget

- End Fusion Voting

- Help Create Jobs


- Erie County Democratic Committee

- Genesee County Democratic Committee


Question 1: I am a former elected official: City of Buffalo Common Council and NYS Senator. I have a B.S. in Political Science, an A.S. in Public Administration, and 6 credits to date for a M.A. in Social Policy. I also stay very active in the political and governmental area, especially due to my current job as Special Assistant/Director of Legislative Affairs for the Chair of the New York State Division of Parole.

Question 2: Appropriately funding the Board of Elections and the Ethics commission to investigate and prosecute candidates, elected officials, and legislative staff for any violations of campaign finance laws or ethics laws; Create a Constitutional Budget Deadline, not one that is flexible but one that is mandatory or the Governor’s budget is enacted by default; Ending the practice of fusion voting where candidates can run on multi party lines, thus cutting down on the political corruption that comes from it; no disclosure exemptions for legislators or their staffs.

Question 3: I wouldn’t be totally honest if I said I had the answer. However, we should start by holding businesses accountable to the conditions they agree to. We also need to make any incentive programs less cumbersome, more transparent, and consistent from region to region. Additionally, mergers of agency functions or entire agencies themselves must be on the table.

Question 4: This is a tough question and even the greatest economists have debated it for years: how can government best aid the economy, if it should at all? I wish I had the answer but let's start with the answer to question 3.


Did not answer questionnaire:

Michael Ranzenhofer ( Ind )

Andrew J. Gruszka (Ind)


Clarence Businesses