From Painter to Politician

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By: Brendan McDonough

Reporter for North Tonawanda

He is a father, businesses owner, community member and now Jesse Gooch can add politician to his name. The long-time North Tonawanda business owner was recently appointed to the 7th District Legislators seat; a position that was vacated by Kathryn Lance after she resigned on November 9th of last year. Gooch, 40, a registered republican, was picked for the spot by the Legislature’s ad-hoc committee. Six other people were interviewed for the post.

For Gooch, deciding to apply for the position was an easy choice.

“I am super connected to my district,” said Gooch. “I always have been and when that position came open, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to give back to my community in a larger way.”

For him giving back to people across the Tonawandas is something he has been doing his whole life. One step at a time. 

His passion to help people is amazing. He is kind, considerate and that drive to improve the community is something he has been doing for a long time.

Right out of high school at the age of 19 he started “Painters Plus,” a business he built from the ground up and turning it from a small company to one of the most recognized businesses across North Tonawanda. 

The business has employed dozens of people across Niagara County. In 2006 and 2007 it started as a small operation on Niagara Falls Blvd., and Gooch says that after a couple years he outgrew the garage – his own personal garage – that he had been using.  

“I would answer the phone. I would paint. I would be on the ladder with a brush in one hand and a phone in the other hand with a customer. I would be doing the estimates at night and on the weekends. I literally did it all like that until I built a team,” said Gooch.

That hard work paid off for him and in 2010 he moved into his current location at 800 Walck Street in North Tonawanda.

“I took it over and remodeled everything. It used to be next to a grinding wheel and was in pretty bad shape,” said Gooch.

After moving into the new location, he came up with Project Hope, where one lucky family gets their home painted for free. This past year things were a little bit different and instead of only picking one family Gooch says he picked a family from Tonawanda, as well. Helping to put a fresh coat of paint on the home and a fresh start for two deserving families who needed it the most.

“This past year there was a family that applied but they were from Tonawanda and, although I like to keep it in North Tonawanda, their story was so terrible and touched my heart that I felt as though I had to pick them in addition to the North Tonawanda family,” said Gooch.  

When he is not painting, he is helping to put out fires; literally. Gooch is a volunteer Firefighter and has been a member of the St. Johnsburg Fire Hall for the past 15 years.

As if that was not enough to keep him busy in 2017, he started another company called Jesse Gooch productions or JG Productions. They stated an event called “Thursday’s on the Water.”

“I have been involved in the concert, promotions and production business for years and years. I started something back in 1996 called Gooch Fest., when I lived in my mother’s house,” said Gooch.

It was basically a back-yard party that started out with just fifty people and growing to the point where hundreds of people would come to his event. He stopped the event for a while but when people starting asking him about reviving it he decided to have it in the back yard of his current home.

“I decided I wanted to have a neighborhood party and charge a fee,” said Gooch. “Any proceeds we raised would be donated to a local charity and I let the community decide what charity we would donate to. One year was to Hospice and another year it when to SPCA. They wanted us to do a project and create a rubber path where the dogs can walk and not get their paws wet in the snow or mud, so that’s exactly what we did.”

Whether they are on two legs or four, if someone needs help Jesse says he will step up for them.

“What I have done with Painter’s Plus, project hope, what I have done with Thursday’s on the Water, Meals on Wheels, several other things, my community involvement, my volunteerism, being a volunteer fireman, I just really felt a need to give back in a bigger way. When this position came up, I was really interested, I got interviewed,” said Gooch.

With a vote of 11 to 3 he won the appointment. It is for a year and he says he is already planning for the next election.

“It’s an election year so right now I am planning on running for 2019,” said Gooch. “I am in and I am running. I am going to give it everything I got.”

For Jesse Gooch stepping into the spotlight is something he says he is prepared for. He says his goals will be to help people of all ages, across his district, in any way he can.

“My top issues are public safety; first responders. I feel it’s important for them to have the equipment and technology they need to do it safely. Public safety is number one and the environment I think is super important. We have the Niagara River right next to us and it’s important to keep that clean for our families and future generations. The farmers are also one of my top priorities and I want to help them as much as possible,” said Gooch.

As a small business owner, he also wants to help others who are thinking about starting a small business. Helping to grow economic development and those residents who want to take one the American Dream of owning their own business. It’s not an easy path to take but Gooch has done it and done it successfully and it’s that experience that he says will help others.

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