NIAGARA FALLS — Candidates in the state Senate’s 62nd District race traded blows at a candidate’s forum in one week before voters will head to the polls.
State Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, extolled his record as a nine-term incumbent while Senate hopeful Amy Hope Witryol accused him of serving special interest groups who have helped to fill his sizable campaign coffers while ignoring the interests of his constituents.
“I believe that the pay-to-play system in Albany is the single biggest drain on our economy,” Witryol said.
Maziarz spent most of his time discussing legislation that he sponsored and different initiatives of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo that have passed into law since Cuomo took office such as pension reform and the 2 percent tax cap.
“I have worked very closely, across the aisle with Governor Cuomo, with my colleagues in the New York state Assembly,” Maziarz said.
Throughout the forum, Witryol, who supports campaign finance reform, spoke about Maziarz’s large campaign war chest — boasting $811,000 on hand as of last week — saying the incumbent spends his time fundraising instead of working for residents of the district.
Witryol also touted her experience as a banking professional who worked in financial crisis management, saying her professional experiences would make her a valuable senator for her constituents.
“I’m working for the 99 percent, not the 1 percent,” Witryol said.
Maziarz defended his campaign fundraising practices, saying he has built to that amount over the 18 years he has been a senator, not being forced to spend much in certain election cycles because of either easy campaigns or a lack of a challenger altogether and added his fundraising is done by volunteers, not by himself.
“I don’t spend a lot of time doing it,” Maziarz said.
The forum was sponsored by the Niagara Falls Block Club Council, the Niagara Falls chapter of the NAACP, the Kiwanas Club of Niagara Falls and the Rotary Club of Niagara Falls and was held at the Earl W. Brydges library.