Assembly contest is most compelling in county

Michael Bobseine, a Democrat, has served as a county legislator and school board member.

Behind the scenes, Chautauqua County Republicans were scrambling. Democratic candidate Michael Bobseine of Fredonia fired up a campaign right before Christmas when he announced he was exploring a run for the 150th District of the New York State Assembly.

Only months earlier, incumbent Andrew Goodell indicated to county party leaders he would not be seeking re-election due to retirement. Though that disclosure would not become public until the middle of this past winter, the wheels were turning on who would become the possible successor.

No one can match Goodell’s knowledge or the rapid, respected responses he is able to convey while making his case in the state capital. Whoever was going to be tapped would be filling some large shoes.

While some who already held elected positions in the county indicated an interest in running for the state, the hierarchy had other ideas and began a recruitment effort of its own. By the end of February, Andrew Molitor — a Westfield resident who is the first assistant district attorney — had officially entered the political fray with Republican backing.

Despite being a newcomer, he wasted little time in distinguishing the difference between himself and his opponent. “In my job, I see the consequences of some of the dumbest and deadliest laws ever passed.” he said.

Andrew Molitor is receiving support for his run from numerous Republicans.

“While most of us want the government to enforce the laws and hold criminals responsible, radical Democrats, doing the opposite, have caused an ever spiraling downward trend in our state.”

During the seven terms of Goodell’s stint in the Assembly that began after William Parment stepped away after 2010, Democrats have gone from being contenders for elected positions in Chautauqua County to longshots. No major office is held by the party with the exception of the mayors in the village of Fredonia and city of Dunkirk.

Jamestown’s Common Council is 8-1 GOP, Dunkirk’s is 3-2. Even the Legislature has a dominant 14-5 breakdown.

That trend is consistent throughout rural New York. Republicans have gained a stranglehold on what may have once been middle America. Now, it’s far right.

On affiliation alone, Molitor comes from a position of strength. But Bobseine, also an attorney, is no stranger to serving constituents, previously holding positions as a county legislator, Family Court magistrate and school board member and president in Fredonia.

In calling this the most “critical election year of our lives,” Bobseine is not just referring to the race for U.S. president. He also is pinning an importance to his battle with Molitor that could have major implications for the region and its connection with New York state.

“Our Assembly District has not had real influence in Albany for years; not since Rolly Kidder and Bill Parment were in Albany or Cathy Young served as the Senate Finance Committee Chair,” he said. “We need someone with my experience and determination who can work with this state government and its leaders to truly help the people and communities in our District.”

Without calling out their opponent by name, both are respectfully drawing the line on what is the most significant and compelling of all the local races. This week, early voting for the Tuesday primary is wrapping up that features a Conservative Family Court judge tussle.

November’s slate is almost immaterial. State Sen. George Borrello is running unopposed for the 57th District. U.S. Rep. Nick Langworthy is being challenged by Thomas Carle, who has not put up much of a fight yet, for Congressional District 23. In addition, there is no challenger for incumbent county District Attorney Jason Schmidt.

That puts the spotlight firmly on the Assembly contest, which seems to suit both Bobseine and Molitor. In recent weeks, both have issued news releases on important county items.

For Bobseine, he noted the need for a property and wetlands balance in regard to Chautauqua Lake. “My proposal, however, will ensure protections for all the inland freshwater lakes in our Assembly District, including Bear, Cassadaga, and Findley Lakes, in addition to Chautauqua Lake,” he said. “Further, it will extend these protections statewide and be all-inclusive.”

Molitor highlighted the benefit of court mergers, such as the recent one in the towns of Harmony and North Harmony. “We need to continuously seek ways to reduce the cost of government,” he said. “As a state Assemblyman, I will work tirelessly to help local governments improve efficiency and cut costs to taxpayers.”

Though the issues are important, reaching out to potential voters is almost as significant. In April, Bobseine began traversing the district on foot, according to his campaign website, “from the Seneca Nation’s Cattaraugus Territory to the Audubon Preserve south of Frewsburg, a distance of more than 80 miles. Along the way, he’s looking forward to meeting people, talking with students, and stopping in to local businesses to hear about people’s interests and concerns all around the district!”

Molitor also is making the rounds by attending events and making new connections around the county. “It has been a joy to meet the voters of our district; many voters have voiced their frustration to me about the lack of common sense in Albany, especially in passing laws which make it more expensive to live here, almost impossible to do business, and which threaten our safety and security,” he said.

It just won’t be the same in the Assembly without Goodell in January. That being said, these two candidates appear to have the ability, knowledge and passion it takes to stand out in our state capital.

John D’Agostino is the editor of The Post-Journal, OBSERVER and Times Observer in Warren, Pa. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call 716-366-3000, ext. 253.


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