As someone who has been a part of New York's efforts to cut spending during Gov. Andrew Cuomo's term, state Assemblyman Andrew Goodell has grown tired of the excuses from local officials.
"It frustrates me when I hear someone say our taxes are too high because of the state and I ask well, who negotiated your union contracts and who decided to put up that new building and who decided to do all the rest of your budget," the Jamestown Republican said. "It's a partnership."
Goodell, who is seeking re-election to the 150th district, emphasized those partnerships with area leaders a number of times in a recent interview at the OBSERVER.
Elected in 2010, Goodell is facing a challenge from Dr. Rudy Mueller, a Democrat, this November. Mueller was interviewed in this corner earlier this month. An audio interview can be found at www.observer-today.com in the "In our neighborhood" blog.
One of the most significant of the partnerships, Goodell pointed out, is with Dunkirk Mayor and Democrat A.J. Dolce. The two have been together an awful lot in recent months due to the developments at the NRG Energy Inc. plant in the city and the recent concerns regarding Carriage House.
NRG has mothballed two of its larger units, meaning the mammoth facility is only running at one-third of its capacity while Carriage House, which has plants in Dunkirk and Fredonia, is building a new site in Kentucky that could take work away from local residents.
"I've been working very hard with Senator (Catharine) Young as well as others ... for the NRG plant. That is incredibly important for the city of Dunkirk," he said.
What also is "incredibly important" for the Western New York region is downsizing our governments and school districts. Both Goodell and Mueller have a history of advocating for consolidations.
But despite the push, both Goodell and Young have not been successful in getting legislation passed that would allow for a regional high school. Currently, four districts are looking at the idea, which technically - at this time - is illegal.
Without a consolidation, however, the current assemblyman notes that students are the ones who suffer.
"We do a disservice to our students when we don't focus on what's best for their education," Goodell said of the numerous small districts that litter the county. " ... (The students) don't get electives. They don't get the quality of education. But the taxpayers get the bill."
And when the taxpayers get the bill - some of the highest in the nation, it sends a strong message to those who may look to do business in New York state.
"I bring a very focused pro-business agenda on the floor of the Assembly. ... If we are going to prosper here in Chautauqua County, we have to be competitive with Pennsylvania and Ohio and other states," the incumbent said. "We have to be competitive."
Goodell and Mueller will be debating next week at The Post-Journal on a number of issues. We will have additional coverage of both candidates and their views in the coming weeks.
John D'Agostino is the OBSERVER publisher. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 366-3000, ext. 401.