Can a doctor cure the troubles of Albany? Dr. Rudy Mueller thinks he can.
Mueller, a former county legislator and Lakewood resident, is running against incumbent Andrew Goodell for the 150th district Assembly seat. Many in this region may know Mueller for his efforts to downsize the plentiful number of county legislators during his terms from 2008 to 2011.
"(Our) government is run inefficiently and ineffectively in many areas and I am going to do whatever I can to make it work better," Mueller said in an interview this week in Dunkirk.
Dr. Rudy Mueller says health care is his priority if he is elected.
On downsizing alone, the candidate has already tried - twice. But for many in the southern part of Chautauqua County, specifically in his hometown, he is either revered or despised for his efforts to dissolve the village of Lakewood into the town of Busti in 2010.
"Lakewood-Busti would have been better off (as one)," he said. Despite his efforts and claims the merger would save the communities money, the vote failed by nearly a 3-to-1 margin.
Mueller, however, seems undeterred by the outcome. "I think we absolutely need to consolidate our local governments somehow," he said. "There's just a lot of wasted inefficiencies and I think the governments need to be more efficient and effective with taxpayer money."
If consolidation does not happen, Mueller expects the tax cap, implemented by the state in 2011, to put area governments in "extreme pain and suffering" if they do not change their current ways.
But health care is where Mueller's heart is. As a physician, he says a better system is his priority in running for the state Assembly. "It's too expensive," he said. "It's inefficient, ineffective and there's a lot of people who are having trouble getting affordable, accessible health care in this county and I see bad things happen to them."
One of the most important issues facing Dunkirk now is the NRG Energy Inc. plant and its future. The company may soon mothball two of the four turbines at the plant.
For his part, Mueller says he knows how significant the plant is to the region and county, but says he still needs more information. His opponent Goodell calls the NRG issue the "singular most important issue in Dunkirk and the north county region."
No matter what their view, our state has been nearly unresponsive to both keeping NRG running - or its plans for a $700 million upgrade from coal to natural gas.
The clock is ticking - for both the NRG issue and the November election.
John D'Agostino is the OBSERVER publisher. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 366-3000, ext. 401.