Now that it is safe to answer the phone again without fear of being subjected to another annoying political robocall, it also is a good time to pause and reflect on this year’s elections. I want to begin, of course, by thanking the people of Grand Island and the Tonawandas for re-electing me to another term in the Erie County Legislature. It truly is an honor and a privilege to represent my constituents in this body.
I also want to congratulate all the other winners in last week’s elections and acknowledge the contributions of the candidates who came up short. It is one thing to spend countless hours over several months knocking on thousands of doors and coming away with a win. It is entirely another thing to give up one’s summer and much of the fall and have seemingly little to show for it. I have been there and I have felt their pain. We owe them our gratitude and respect for their willingness to sacrifice their time and money to run for public office.
Following the election I had a delightful conversation with my opponent, Bill Conrad. He called to congratulate me and I complimented him on a fine campaign. Bill is a teacher at Kenmore West High School, a husband, father, rugby coach and all-around great guy. I told him he has a bright future in public service and I meant it. After my talk with him, I feel good about the future of our community. For the time being, I will do my best to serve the people who re-elected me.
The first order of business in this regard is passage of the 2014 county budget. The county executive has submitted his proposal that contains no tax increase, but relies on some one-shot revenue sources. I am good with the part about not increasing taxes, but I have concerns about the one-shots, particularly his recommendation to defer part of our pension contributions to the state retirement system. This move would require us to pay interest to the state on the portion we defer. I told the executive that I am not dead set against his plan. I need, however, for him to make the case that things are getting better and we will not need to borrow from the state to balance our budget in subsequent years. I am ever mindful that we are nearing a slippery slope, one that could put us back on the road to Red and Green Budget days if we are not careful. We cannot allow this to happen.
If you have thoughts you would like to share, I would love to hear from you. I can be contacted by phone at 858-8672 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.