Tonawanda News — Republican voters across Niagara County will be asked Thursday to choose between a seasoned incumbent or a relative newcomer to represent them in the general election for New York’s 62nd state Senate district.
State Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, is facing a primary challenge for the Republican Party line on the November election ballot from Niagara Falls attorney, one-time mayoral candidate and city school board member Johnny Destino.
The candidates have their differences.
Maziarz, 59, has represented the district for 18 years and is a veteran of Niagara County politics and government, having held clerk positions for both North Tonawanda and the county prior to his being elected to the state senate.
The 35-year-old Destino, a practicing attorney who formerly worked in the IT department for the Seneca Gaming Corp., has served on the Falls school board since 2010, his first elected position. His other foray into politics came last year when he made an unsuccessful attempt to unseat Paul Dyster as mayor of Niagara Falls.
Destino said he got into the state Senate race because he believes the district’s voters need new leadership in Albany, the kind that will work harder to promote the public’s interest than to protect their own.
”It’s not about maintaining power for myself,” Destino said.
In the weeks leading up to primary day, Maziarz has largely framed his campaign around his record, suggesting his influence in Albany has helped bring low-cost power, state funds and other valuable resources that have helped grow businesses and spur economic development projects in the district.
He’s touted his support for the Recharge New York low-cost power program as an example of a measure he championed that has helped grow business in the Niagara Region. He’s also frequently noted his support for the development of the new Niagara Falls International Airport terminal, which he believes will be a catalyst for growth in and around the city for years to come.