Charlie Nesbitt didn’t seek State Senate seat

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 July 2014 at 12:00 am

ALBION – Former State Assemblyman Charlie Nesbitt didn’t actively pursue George Maziarz’s seat in the State Senate after Maziarz sudden announcement last Sunday night that he wouldn’t seek re-election.

Nesbitt served in the State Assembly for 13 years before stepping down in 2005 after being Republican leader of the minority conference. He was appointed president of the State Tax Appeals Tribunal and continues to work as one of its three commissioners.

Nesbitt’s name was tossed out to a Committee on Vacancies that met last week and backed North Tonawanda Mayor Robert Ortt for the Republican endorsement for the 62nd Senate District.

“As long as we had a good candidate I wasn’t seeking it,” Nesbitt said.

And Ortt, a mayor for 4 ½ years, is a strong candidate, Nesbitt said.

“He has a good background and I’ve heard good things about him,” Nesbitt said. “He is a veteran and a CEO.”

Ortt, 35, served as the city’s treasurer and then clerk-treasurer before being elected mayor. Ortt enlisted in the National Guard on October 2001 after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He served a tour in Afghanistan from March to December 2008. Prior to working in city hall, Ortt was a personal financial analyst with Primerica Financial Services.

Gia Arnold, 24, of Holley has forced a GOP primary for Sept. 9. She also is working to be on the November ballot under the Libertarian Party.

The Republicans have a narrow edge in the Senate, and Democrats, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, want to see the power shift to Democrats after the November election.

Maziarz’s seat represents most of Niagara, all of Orleans and the western portion of Monroe. The Democrats have endorsed Niagara Falls attorney Johnny Destino, who lost a Republican Primary to Maziarz in 2012 and has switched parties to run as a Democrat this time.

Destino could see his chances for election improved if both Arnold and Ortt are in the ballot in November, splitting some of the Republican and Conservative bases.

Maziarz in his announcement on Sunday said the job was taking a toll with all the back and forth to Albany and his Senate district. Federal investigators are also looking into his campaign fund and have identified tens of thousands of dollars in unitemized and unreported checks.

Nesbitt worked closely with Maziarz in the State Legislature and said Maziarz had a reputation as one of the hard-working legislators in Albany with his work in the state capitol and in his home district. Nesbitt said the constant commutes and demands of the positions make it hard on legislators and their families.

“He really did a fine job,” Nesbitt said. “He worked as hard as anyone in politics.”