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Democrats say their candidates shouldn’t be counted out

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 July 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – James White, a candidate for Orleans County Legislature, speaks at a Democratic Party picnic on Sunday at Bullard Park in Albion.

ALBION – Democrats in Orleans County may be outnumbered by Republicans by 2-to-1, and Republicans may fill nearly all elected positions at the town and county level. But the Democrats say they are determined to give residents a choice on Election Day.

With a new election looming, the Democratic Party has three candidates running for county positions and welcomes more for town elections.

Three candidates for county positions – Donald Organisciak for sheriff, and Fred Miller and James White for county legislator – both thanked the Democratic Party for their support. They spoke during the Democrats summer picnic on Sunday at Bullard Park.

James White is only 21, a college student at D’Youville in Buffalo, majoring in business management with a minor in pre-law. White graduated from Lyndonville in 2012. He expects to be done at D’Youville next year and then plans to attend grad school.

He said the county desperately needs Democrats in the local government. He said one-party rule is leading to privatization of critical services, from home health care nurses to the county nursing home.

Fred Miller said the county would benefit from more political diversity on local municipal boards.

“I see a local government that is failing the taxpayers,” White said at Sunday’s Democratic Party picnic. “The privatization of public services can be very dangerous.”

White, a Gaines resident, is challenging incumbent Don Allport for an at-large seat on the Legislature.

White said he would push for ways to keep younger adults and also cater to senior citizens in the community. Those age groups often have discretionary income to help support local businesses and preserve neighborhoods.

“My generation is fleeing the county at a high rate,” White said. “We need to do something to retain this generation.”

White was working in a summer program that directed federal funds for local businesses and agencies to hire disadvantaged youths ages 16 to 21. He was at Cobblestone Country Federal Credit Union until he said he was terminated from the program by county officials, claiming his participation in the program violated the Hatch Act, which aims to keep federal employees from certain political activities.

White has since been hired by Tim Hortons in Albion. He said he is challenging the county’s Hatch Act determination, believing he was unjustly removed from the program. He said his termination came after he wrote a letter to the editor critical of the county’s selling of the nursing home.

Don Organisciak is running for sheriff of Orleans County.

“I’m not a quitter,” he said about fighting the Hatch Act determination.

White said he hopes he can inspire a new generation of young adults to be active in the community at the political level.

“My generation needs to step up,” he said.

Fred Miller, owner of an Albion hardware store, is the only Democrat on the seven-member County Legislature. He was elected in November 2013. He urged the party to work to get Democratic candidates elected.

“I hope you support newcomers,” Miller said. “We really need new people.”

Miller said he is fiscally conservative and not afraid to speak up.

“I’m a little on the frugal side,” Miller said. “I try to spend your money like it’s my own money.”

The Republican Party didn’t run a candidate against Miller. He started in local politics about 10 years ago, serving on the Albion Village Board. Fran Nayman, a long-time Democratic Party leader, urged Miller to run.

Nayman died in a fire in December at his small engine repair shop. Jeanne Crane, the current party chairwoman, said Nayman was a mentor to many Democrats and a generous donor to many of their campaigns.

Organisciak is retired from the Medina Police Department after a 30-year career. He noted he has the most experience in law enforcement of any candidate in the race. Randy Bower and Tom Drennan, both long-time employees in the Sheriff’s Department, are both running.

Bower, a county dispatcher, has the Conservative line and is forcing a Republican primary against Tom Drennan, the chief deputy who also has the Independence Party line.

Jeanne Crane, leader of the Orleans County Democratic Party, said candidates are welcome for town offices in the county.

Organisciak worked 30 years in Medina, with 16 years as a patrolman, then a year as a sergeant and the final 13 years as the Medina Police Department’s first full-time criminal investigator. Organisciak retired in June 2008 and would work two more years as the school resource officer for Lyndonville Central School.

He is currently a part-time school bus driver.

“If I’m elected I will be a working sheriff,” he said. “I’m not going to limit myself to being in the office all day.”

Organisciak said when he has been out campaigning some people were surprised the Democratic Party still existed in the county.

“We’re here and we’re alive,” he said at Sunday’s picnic.

The Board of Elections reports today that there are 9,991 registered Republicans in the county, 5,246 Democrats, 1,048 members of the Independence Party, and 530 Conservatives, as well as other members of minor parties. In addition, there are 4,686 unaffiliated voters or “blanks.”

Jeanne Crane, the party chairwoman, wants to provide an alternative and choices for voters with Democratic candidates.

The Democratic Party committees at the town levels are soliciting candidates for those races. The town committees will soon have their caucuses with candidates to be picked by mid-September. For more information, contact Crane at 737-6903.