Lewiston Labor Leader To Challenge Burmaster
By Mike Hudson
Chris Ferrante, a Lewiston Democrat and a local labor leader, is going to challenge 20-year Republican incumbent Clyde Burmaster for the 1st District seat in the Niagara County Legislature.
Burmaster has come under fire recently for his frequent travel out of the area and his perceived laid-back approach to constituent concerns in the district.
“Clyde is part of a well-entrenched Republican machine and I have a tough road ahead of me, but I'm up to the challenge,” said Ferrante, who has never previously sought public office. “The 1st District needs a responsive legislator, a legislator who is directly in touch with the district residents.”
State Sen. George Maziarz defended Burmaster.
“Anybody who knows Clyde knows he's a solid individual with the best interests of the people of Niagara County at heart,” he said. “It seems that, no matter what job you're doing, there's always somebody out there who never did it before but thinks they can do it better.”
The makeup of the current county legislature has the Democratic Party operating at a decided disadvantage as they hold only three of the 15 legislative seats. While the Democrats have an advantage of 11,000 registered voters in the county, the overwhelming majority of these live in the cities of Niagara Falls and North Tonawanda, and a smaller percentage of registered Democrats actually vote compared to Republicans.
“I'm anxious to play a part in the return of the county Democratic Party and the best way to guarantee that return is to take back the legislature,” Ferrante said. “We're one of the highest taxed counties in the nation, my legislative district is dealing with all of the problems that come with being home to a landfill, and we're not receiving either the time or the attention that's required to address these very serious issues.”
The rookie candidate left no doubt as to where he is coming from, saying, “I'm energized, and I'm prepared to do the walking, the door knocking and the outreach to meet the good people of the 1st Legislative District. This will be a grass roots campaign. For too long our County Legislature has operated from the top."
Ferrante says he's put his intentions in writing as he seeks the Democratic endorsement through the Town of Porter Democratic Committee, saying, “I've already heard from the Town of Porter committee and I plan to meet with them soon.”
Ferrante, who works as a control maintenance instrument technician at the Niagara Falls Wastewater Plant, and his wife of 28 years, Theresa, moved to Lewiston 15 years ago. They are the parents of a son, Chris, and Ferrante has coached hockey for Grand Niagara. He is a 20-year member of the Niagara Sportsmen's Club and is the president of the United Steelworkers Union, Local 9434-1.
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