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AUGUST 26- SEP 03, 2014

Destino Campaign Will Officially Begin on Wednesday at Bond Lake

By Tony Farina

August 26, 2014

Johnny Destino (left) shakes hands with Gov. Andrew Cuomo (right) with Nick Forster (middle).

UB Law School graduate Johnny Destino will officially kick off his campaign for the State Senate seat (62nd District) being vacated by scandal-rocked incumbent George Maziarz with a major fundraiser Wednesday (Aug. 27) beginning at 6 p. m. at the Bond Lake picnic area on Lower Mountain Road in Ransomville.

Niagara County Democratic Chairman Nick Forster says Destino's campaign is gaining momentum every day and describes Wednesday's event as the official start of the young lawyer's bid "to clean up the mess George [Maziarz] left behind," and begin a new era of working for the public, not lining the pockets of fat cat contributors and others who are driven by greed, not public service.

"Johnny Destino represents a big difference [from the Maziarz years], says Forster, "and he's going to Albany to do the people's work. He won't be focused on who is going to sit on the YMCA board, but rather on what needs to be done to increase economic development, create jobs, and restore public confidence in a system that is broken."

Maziarz, the Newfane Republican who has held his senate seat since 1995, announced in July that he had lost the passion and commitment needed for the job and would not seek re-election in November. Maziarz's sudden withdrawal from politics came as a federal investigation into his use of campaign funds was heating up as several of his top aides received subpoenas from the U. S. attorney's office in Manhattan. That investigation, which sprang from the now-defunct Moreland Commission's work, is ongoing.

Destino, of Niagara Falls, is the endorsed Democratic candidate and he will face the winner of the Republic primary on Sept. 9 between North Tonawanda Mayor Robert Ortt, an Afghanistan war veteran, and Gia Arnold of Orleans County who re-entered the GOP primary campaign last week after she had withdrawn earlier in the month after coming clean about an extramarital affair.

Ortt, like Destino, is also campaigning to fix a broke Albany, and like the man he hopes to succeed, he started his political career in North Tonawanda. But Forster will undoubtedly target Ortt as the handpicked candidate of the Maziarz political machine which has controlled Niagara County politics for two decades.

Arnold, a married mother of three, quit the race earlier in the month after announcing she had a one-night affair. But she now says she changed her mind after being "overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and well-wishes" she received after revealing that she was leaving because of the affair. She is a Tea Party favorite.

Destino has already garnered strong labor support for his campaign with endorsements from the United Auto Workers, New York State United Teachers, Communications Workers of America, Laborers Local 91, and the United Steel Workers' affiliates. And there is more labor support to come, according to Forster.

Destino, as a Republican, ran a very strong race against Mayor Paul Dyster of Niagara Falls in 2011, and while still a Republican challenged Maziarz in a 2012 Republican primary for the senate but was soundly defeated by the Maziarz machine. Sources say Maziarz was so incensed by the primary challenge that he literally drove Destino out of the party, and Destino left the GOP and became a Democrat.

"I am running because I want to change the corrupt culture that has taken hold in Albany and concentrate instead on things that will help people like jobs, student loan relief, lower energy costs, and saying no to imported hazardous wastes that threaten our community with toxic pollutants," says Destino.

Destino, an elected member of the Niagara Falls school board, is a married father of three young boys who graduated in the top quarter of his UB law school class and who served as editor of the Buffalo Intellectual Property Law Journal.

Before he went to law school, Destino carved a successful career as the technical services manager for the Seneca Niagara Casino.

In addition to the Niagara Falls school board, Destino also sits on the Orelean/Niagara BOCES Board of Education; the Community Missions of Niagara Frontier, and the Highland Community Revitalization Committee. The 62d District includes all of Niagara and Orleans counties and two towns in western Monroe County.

Destino says he is driven by the desire to serve the people, not the political bosses and big money special interests who have held power for so long.

"The citizens of this district, and for that matter the entire state, need a new form of government in Albany," says Destino, "one that works for them. I want to be a part of that change."

As an example, Destino cites the need to re-examine the state Power Authority's role "and determine how and why our electrical rates are so high, when in reality, we should be enjoying some of the lowest rates in the nation, given the great natural resource in our backyard."

Destino's drive to win the seat will officially get under way on Wednesday night at Bond Lake. Tickets are $30, says Forster, who is hoping for a strong turnout to send the message that this time, "we are in it to win it."


Nick Forster (L) State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli (C) and Johnny Destino (R)






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Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
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