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Lorigo Receives Top Award From Good Government Club

By Tony Farina

Party chairman recognized for contributions to governance.
Erie County Conservative Party Chairman Ralph Lorigo with wife, Debbie, and President George W. Bush. Lorigo longest sitting county chairman.
Ralph Lorigo shares dais with Former New York Gov. George Pataki. Pataki won three terms with help from Conservative line.
Former President Bill Clinton with Ralph Lorigo. Local Conservative leader has long political reach.
Ralph Lorigo and Newt Gingrich, former House Speaker and Lorigo make strong political tandem.

It was an overflow crowd last Saturday night (March 13) at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens as the Good Government Club of Western New York attracted more than 400 guests for the its 20th annual St. Joseph’s Dinner, this year honoring Erie County Conservative Party Chairman Ralph Lorigo.

Lorigo, who is the longest sitting political chairman in the county (1995), is the latest in a long list of distinguished public servants who have received the club’s Achievement Award which recognizes the contributions of Italian-Americans to the region’s governance.

“I’m very, very, very honored to receive this award,” Lorigo said in a video presentation in addition to his personal remarks. “It is an acknowledgement that if you dedicate a lot of years to a public purpose, people will, in fact, appreciate it. That’s what this means to me.”

Lorigo, a prominent lawyer and entrepreneur as well as a political leader, grew up on Buffalo’s East Side but moved with his family to West Seneca in 1960 where he and his wife of 39 years, the former Debbie Caruana, have made their home ever since and raised their three children, Michael, Joseph and Jaime. Michael is now the majority leader of the Erie County Legislature.

“I’m very proud of Joseph,” says Lorigo. “He broke the mold. He actually won a race. I never did.”

But somewhat ironically, Lorigo’s political career really began with that race he lost for town justice in 1981, a bid inspired by his mother. He became involved in local Conservative politics, rising to the position of town chairman, and learning the political ropes of recruiting candidates and managing campaigns. He has been active in politics ever since, and every Saturday for more than a dozen years, he hosts what is the must-attend political breakfast meeting at Daisies in Lackawanna for politicians of all stripes who hope to be seen and heard in the political world.

“Everybody, no matter their affiliation, is welcome,” says Lorigo about the Saturday gathering. “It’s a way to humanize all of us, to take a little of the sting out of politics.” And Lorigo is quick to emphasize that his Conservative committee is open to endorsing candidates whatever their party affiliation and he believes that the fusion system in New York that totals all votes cast for a candidate on any line is a very good system.

Lorigo attended junior high and high school in West Seneca, did his undergraduate work at UB, and earned his law degree at the University at Buffalo Law School in 1973. He maintains an extensive law practice, based in West Seneca, handling all kinds of legal matters but with a specialty in real estate law. Ralph’s law office includes five other lawyers including his son, Joseph.

This busy lawyer and powerful political leader credits his success in life to his strong family roots that were instilled in him by his parents, Ralph and Caroline, values that still guide his life today.

“There was a huge influence on my youth by the presence of family,” says Lorigo, “and a great deal of respect for your elders. Everybody pulled together.” He remains a committed family man to this day, with family his top passion in life, followed by law and politics.

“I love to practice law, but my family is for sure number one,” Lorigo says. “My children are the epitome of what life is about, and having grandchildren is now the best part of my existence, and nothing makes us happier than seeing our three beautiful granddaughters.”

Following the presentation of the award on Saturday, Ralph received dozens of congratulatory emails, including one from New York State Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long.

Long wrote, “Congrats Great Video Ralph, a reference to the short video featuring the honoree that was played at the Saturday event under the auspices of the Good Government Club and President Donald Alessi.

Russ Gugino, a former top aide to Rep. Jack Kemp, sent a “well done, Mr. Chairman,” email, and Rick Gattone, a former Republican chairman in the Lovejoy District of Buffalo, called the event a beautiful and wonderful tribute to a political figure who has earned the respect of so many with his work over the years.

“It was a great night,” said Gattone. “And the attendance was just incredible. He is a man who has earned a great deal of respect with the way he has conducted himself over the years, and it was certainly in evidence with the huge crowd that turned out to be part of the special occasion. It was an honor for me to be there.”



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

Mar 18, 2014