Democrat who wants to succeed Maziarz says he’ll fight for more WNY aid

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 July 2014 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – Johnny Destino speaks to about 75 people at the Orleans County Democratic Party picnic this afternoon at Bullard Park in Albion.

ALBION – It’s a rallying cry repeated often by Republican leaders locally and state-wide: the State Senate needs to remain in Republican control or the downstate Democrats will give free rein to the State Legislature and governor to pass a liberal agenda and drive up taxes.

Johnny Destino doesn’t buy that argument. He is running as a Democrat for Senate in the 62nd District, George Maziarz’s seat.

“Look at the downturn in Western New York over the last 40 years while we’ve had a Republican majority in the State Senate,” Destino said today in Albion. “That argument that all of a sudden it’s going flip to Democratic control and I’m going to succumb to downstate liberal interests is just false. I’ll be a strong advocate for the 62nd District.”

Destino, 37, is an attorney in Niagara Falls. He said he would make increased state funding for local schools a top priority. He serves on the Niagara Falls Board of Education and the board for the Orleans-Niagara BOCES.

He was critical of Maziarz for giving “bullet aid” to each school district in Orleans County rather than pushing for more state aid that would be outside the whims and influence of a state senator. Maziarz this past school year directed $67,800 in bullet aid to each of the five districts in Orleans.

Destino ran against Maziarz in a Republican primary two years ago and was soundly defeated. He didn’t want to associate with the Niagara County Republican Party this election, saying the party is corrupt.

Alisa Lukasiewicz

Dennis Glascott

Daniel Furlong

Maziarz opted against re-election two weeks ago, a day before the deadline to decline the nomination. Many Republican Party leaders are rallying behind North Tonawanda Mayor Rob Ortt, who faces a GOP primary challenge from Gia Arnold of Holley.

Maziarz’s campaign fund is being investigated by the US Attorney. Maziarz’s sudden absence from the race gives voters a chance to pick a senator who will fight for Middle Class families, Destino said.

Using the region’s low-cost hydropower to create and sustain jobs can keep more hard-working residents in Western New York, Destino said. The state government can also enact policies to bring down the cost of electricity for everyone.

“That will lead directly to the increase in jobs that we all deserve so our children don’t have to graduate from college and leave the area to find work and raise families,” he said.

Destino said he supports a fiscally conservative government “but not at an expense of the people.”

He vowed to be a strong advocate for the area if he is sent to Albany.

“I’m going to be a team player working for labor’s interests, for Western New York and to get our families back into good-paying jobs where they can start raising families and actually afford to stay in Western New York,” he said. “I’m not going to play games with my position. I’m not going to try and cut deals in exchange for votes. That’s what got us into this position in the first place.”

Three candidates for State Supreme Court Justice also addressed Demcorats at the picnic.

Alisa Lukasiewicz works a special counsel for the Phillips Lytle firm in Buffalo. She is a past corporation counsel for the City of Buffalo, the first woman to serve in the position. Lukasiewicz said she has worked hard in her career.

Dennis Glascott, current village of Angola judge and acting Buffalo City Court judge, has 25 years of trial experience across New York. He worked as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Navy.

Daniel Furlong has worked the past four years as a confidential law clerk for State Supreme Court Judge Joseph Glownia. Furlong also worked 26 years in private practice as an attorney.

Orleans Hub will have an article Monday about Jim O’Donnell, a Buffalo police officer running against Chris Collins for Congress.