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Grozio Hopes to Win Back Third District Seat for Democrats

Grozio says, "This is the year we can refocus county government to work for people instead of special interests, one-party rule and a narrow agenda of political power moves."


Ready to do battle, Nick Forster carries his famous 'big stick" gavel.

Theodore Roosevelt walk softly.

Cheree Copelin was appointed to the legislature in June 2011. She won election in Theodore Roosevelt walk softly. November of 2011.

Mike Panepinto is weighing his options.

Keeping up with a promise of 12 weeks and 12 candidates - one to oppose each of the 12 Republicans in the Niagara County Legislature - Niagara County Democratic Chairman Nick Forster announced another candidate this week.

He is Mark Grozio, the membership developer/assistant business manager for the IBEW local 237 and a member of the Niagara Falls Planning Board.

Grozio is running in the 3rd District, which covers the LaSalle section of the city, a district with more than a 2-1 Democratic plurality.

Cheree J. Copelin, a school teacher, and a Republican, presently holds the seat.

Grozio is a life-long resident of LaSalle and has worked for the IBEW since 1987.

Grozio is not shy of issues and made it clear he believes that radical change is needed.

“We need a fundamental change in direction in Niagara County,” Grozio says. “We must stop using taxpayers’ money to subsidize businesses using out-of- state workers to build facilities that produce few jobs."

He favors a “Claw Back” policy for the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) projects.

“If incentives and tax breaks are given and promised job creation and retention are not achieved, then the businesses (who got the tax breaks) should be required to return public dollars they receive,” Grozio says.  He promises to work closely with the IDA to make sure this happens.

Grozio also wants more New York State Power Authority (NYPA) revenue distributed to local governments in Niagara County.  According to a study released by Rep. Brian Higgins, 66 percent of the profits from NYPA are derived from the Niagara Power Plant, but only 12 percent of the profits are distributed in this area, mostly filtered through special interests, resulting in a net loss of 90 percent of the benefits of having hydro power here.

“The cost of local power for Niagara County residents should be the lowest in the state," Grozio notes.

Of course, to effect change, and get Niagara County residents use of locally produced hydropower, Grozio would have to fight against the powers in Albany, including the governor's office.

Electrical rates are not nearly the lowest in the state since most of the inexpensive hydropower produced by the fall of the Niagara River goes to New York City. Local residents do not get to use the hydropower generated here, a kind of cruel joke on the  people and their ineffective representatives, something that Grozio says he will fight to change once he is elected.

Grozio and his wife Lynda (Merante) Grozio have three children that attended Niagara Falls public schools and, with child safety in mind, he said he plans to challenge the Niagara County Probation Department policy of shepherding sex offenders to cluster in Niagara Falls apartments, oftentimes near schools.

Grozio says that has to stop now and he plans to do something about it!

The candidate serves on the City of Niagara Falls Electrical Board and the Niagara County Building Trades Council.  He volunteered his time on the Festival of Lights, the Veterans Memorial in Hyde Park and Christmas Lighting at Memorial Medical Center. He’s involved with the LaSalle Little League, Niagara Junior Purple Eagles and the Buffalo Bisons and Town of Tonawanda Hockey Association.

“Mark has the background, commitment and understanding of public policy that we need to change the direction of Niagara County," said Chairman Forster, "We need a legislature with an agenda to help working people and families. Mark can make an important contribution in that effort.”

This race, perhaps more than most others, will be a test for Forster's recent return as chairman.

When Forster was county chairman back in the 1990's and early 2000's, the Democrats controlled the legislature. Since he left, the Democrats have spiraled downhill with an alacrity that has amazed political observers. The Republicans have increasingly controlled the legislature and now have 12 seats to the Democrats three.

Even in heavily Democratic districts, Republicans outmatched Democrats.

The 3rd District, the one in question here, for example, has 4,889 Democrats enrolled versus 2,186 Republicans. Yet, in 2011, before Forster was chairman of the party, Copelin won election against Democrat challenger John Briglio, 1,692-1,386.

Before Copelin, Republican Vincent Sandonato beat Democrat Nick Melson, 1,012 to 804 in 2009.

During the Forster era, Democrat Sean O'Conner was a perennial winner in that district and coasted to easy victories.

Also considering a run in a Democratic primary against Grozio is Mike Panepinto, a 31- year veteran of the city who works for the Department of Public Works.

He told the Reporter that he wants to run in the primary and will announce soon whether he will enter the race or lend his support to Grozio.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

May 14, 2013