North Tonawanda mayor has GOP backing for Maziarz seat

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 July 2014 at 12:00 am

A committee to fill vacancies has picked North Tonawanda Mayor Robert Ortt as the Republican Party candidate for the 62 Senate District, which includes all of Orleans, most of Niagara and the western portion of Monroe.

Five Republican Party leaders picked Ortt as the party’s endorsed candidate after George Maziarz declined the party nomination and announced on Sunday night that he would retire at the end of 2014.

That launched a scramble to fill the spot for the 2014 election, and party leaders picked Ortt, who has been mayor of North Tonawanda the past 4 ½ years.

He will face Gia Arnold of Holley in a Republican Primary on Sept. 9. Arnold sought to be interviewed by the committee of Republican leaders. They picked Ortt without talking to Arnold.

In a joint statement Wednesday night, GOP chairmen Scott Kiedrowski of Niagara County, Ed Morgan of Orleans County and Bill Reilich of Monroe County announced their support for Ortt, who served in the National Guard and was deployed to Afghanistan from March to December 2008. Prior to being elected mayor, he served as the city’s treasurer and then clerk-treasurer.

“Serving as the chief executive of North Tonawanda, Rob has fought for a smaller, more common-sense government, while revitalizing his community,” according to the statement from the GOP chairmen. “A staunch defender of the Second Amendment, Rob will work to repeal the New York SAFE Act, and advocate for law abiding gun owners across New York. As a combat veteran, he will bring a commitment to leadership and service with him to Albany to represent the people of Niagara, Orleans and Monroe counties.”

The committee picked Ortt over Arnold.

“This seat will play a crucial role in preventing downstate Democrats from taking full control of New York state government at the expense of Western New Yorkers,” according to the chairmen. “We look forward to assisting Rob with the full support of our organizations and know he will represent the people of the 62nd district with the same integrity he has exhibited his entire career.”

Arnold has been a vocal opponent of the SAFE Act and one of the leaders of the New York Revolution, a group that formed after the SAFE Act was approved in January 2013. She helped convince every town and village board in Orleans County to pass resolutions calling on the state to repeal the SAFE Act.

She noted on a Facebook post on Thursday that North Tonawanda hasn’t passed such a resolution.

“You want to talk about jumping on the bandwagon a little late?” she said. “Where was he a year and a half ago?”

Arnold said she won’t just give “lip service” to issues. She said Ortt’s backing is from the “Good Ole Boys’ Club.”

“Now more than ever, we need accountability, we need tax relief, we need jobs, we need a senator who will truly represent us in Albany,” she said.

The winner of the GOP primary will face off against Johnny Destino in November. Destino, a Niagara Falls lawyer, challenged Maziarz in a GOP primary in 2012. He switched parties and is now running as a Democrat.