OBSERVER Staff Report
Andrew Goodell, former Chautauqua County Executive and a well-known area attorney, is running for the New York State Assembly's 150th Legislative District seat.
''I am running for the state Assembly because it is absolutely critical that New York dramatically cut the cost of government on every level,'' Goodell said. ''We need new energy and new ideas to make that a reality. We simply cannot afford to continue with business as usual. We are smothered by the highest taxes, the highest welfare and Medicaid costs, and one of the worst regulatory environments in the nation. We need to dramatically cut the cost of government, and we need to do it now.''
New York state and local governments, for example, spend more on Medicaid than Texas and California combined, even though both states are substantially larger than New York state.
''If New York cut its welfare and Medicaid expenses to the national average, both our state and our local governments would be talking about budget surpluses rather than budget deficits,'' Goodell said.
As the same time the state is cutting education funding, hurting schools, forcing layoffs of teachers and educators and forcing local school tax increases, those on welfare continue to see their benefits remain untouched. State employees are facing a 20 percent cut in pay as a result of the proposed furloughs.
''It is simply wrong to hurt the hard-working men and women of New York state, including all its taxpayers, without reforming welfare and Medicaid,'' Goodell said.
Tax cuts on the state level are meaningless, Goodell said, if the costs are merely shifted onto the backs of local governments through unfunded state mandates or a reduction in state aid, a common practice in New York state.
''We need real cost cutting on every level of government,'' Goodell said. ''Meaningful relief from state mandates would help every level of government to cut costs, which is ultimately the key to making New York state more competitive for local industry.''
Goodell also stressed the need for a more business-friendly environment.
''As assemblyman, I will fight hard to help our important agricultural industry,'' Goodell said. ''Unlike the current incumbent, I will fight to my last breath to oppose the ill-conceived Farm Labor Bill that would have a devastating effect on many local farmers. Chautauqua County has more active farms than other counties in New York state, as well as many agriculturally related industries, such as Welch's, Cliffstar, Carriage House and Ralston Purina.''
Goodell said the county needs an assemblyman who will fight for farmers, not vote for legislation that could put them out of business.
He also emphasized the need for an assemblyman who will fight for local manufacturers and employers so they can afford to expand and grow, offer more jobs and pay higher wages and benefits. Goodell said lower taxes mean everyone keeps more money in their own pockets.
''We need to rebuild New York state from the ground up with real financial reforms, real cost cuts and an improved business environment, not impose higher taxes and more regulations,'' Goodell said.
Goodell also said the state must take on strong ethics reform that eliminates the corrupt pay-to-play system. For too long, he said, Albany has been a cesspool of corruption driven by campaign contributions from lobbyists and powerful special interests.
''We need to stop this system and implement the comprehensive ethics reform recommended by numerous civil organizations,'' Goodell said. ''I will put Chautauqua County first, not lobbyists or special interests in Albany.''
Goodell said New York has an excellent skilled workforce, smart businessmen, good educational institutions and strong infrastructure.
''We need to get government out of our way so that the private sector can grow and prosper, and so that workers can make more money and keep more money in their own pockets,'' Goodell said.
Goodell is the managing partner of the law firm of Goodell and Rankin, and has been the attorney in several successful high-profile cases. He is active in the community, including the First Covenant Church council, founding member and current board member of the Chautauqua Leadership Network, past president and Paul Harris Fellow of the Jamestown Noon Rotary Club, board member for the Bemus Bay Pops, co-chair of the United Way professional division, former CODE board chairman, former president of the State University at Fredonia Business Administration and Accounting Advisory Board and co-chair of the Girl Scout's capital campaign for Camp Timbercrest.
He has received several awards and recognitions, including a recognition for his work establishing the Fire Service Enhancement Program, Business First's ''40 under 40'' award in 1993, and the highest award of the New York State Association of Counties for his work on welfare reform. Goodell has also served on various statewide task forces to improve health care services.
Goodell is a graduate of Cornell Law School, where he received the American Jurisprudence Award for Administrative Law. He also has a degree in political economics and mathematics from Williams College. He graduated as salutatorian from Maple Grove High School.
Goodell is married to Lisa Goodell, executive director of the Chautauqua Blind Association, and has three grown daughters, a stepson and several grandchildren. He is a PSIA-certified ski instructor at Cockaigne Ski Resort and a member of the Chautauqua Rowing Association. He enjoys hiking, biking and boating.