By Mark Scheer
The Tonawanda News
The race for New York’s new-look 62nd Senate district is shaping up as a rematch.
Lewiston resident and retired bank executive Amy Hope Witryol plans to formally announce her candidacy for the seat during a series of stops in Niagara, Orleans and Monroe Counties on Friday.
The Democratic challenger would face incumbent state Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, who acknowledged Monday his plans to seek re-election this fall.
Maziarz and Witryol squared off in the 62nd district in 2010. Maziarz defeated Witryol by more than a 2-to-1 margin in that contest, securing another two years in the office he has held since 1995.
Witryol said Monday she’s running again because she believes it is time for a change.
“From my view, 18 years is enough of a career politician,” Witryol said Monday. “I feel very strongly that my business background would bring a valuable skill that’s needed in Albany.”
In response, Maziarz said he believes the voters in the district should have a choice and that he looks forward to the challenge.
“I’ve been fortunate enough for the voters in my district to re-elect me every year and I will continue to fight for them,” he said.
The Senate district itself will be different in this year’s race. The old district covered Niagara County with the exception of the city of Niagara Falls as well as all of Orleans County and part of Monroe County. Under the state’s redistricting process, the city of Niagara Falls has been added and the city of Rochester has been removed.
Witryol believes from a party enrollment standpoint, the new district will allow her to be more competitive. She also thinks getting involved earlier will be a plus as well. In 2010, she didn’t officially join the race until July after endorsed Democrat Christopher Srock of Wilson dropped out.
“There will be more time for people to get to know me,” she said.
Witryol took aim at Maziarz’s record on job creation and economic issues, suggesting communities in the 62nd District have not faired well under his watch. She pointed to Niagara County’s frequent listing at the top of the Tax Foundation’s list of counties with the highest taxes when compared to assessed value as one sign that local economic conditions are not as strong as they should be.
“You’ve got a career politician after 18 years and you are in last place,” she said. “Who would look at Niagara and Monroe and Orleans counties and say ‘we can’t compete with the rest of the United States?’ ”
Witryol said she intends to make job creation and campaign finance reform two central issues during the race. As she did in her first go-round with Maziarz, Witryol called for an end to the culture of “pay to play” in New York.
Maziarz defended his record on economic issues and job creation, saying he’s fought hard to create and retain jobs throughout the district, including in Niagara County where he pointed to the Yahoo! data center in Lockport as an example of a project he helped bring to the community. Maziarz, who was in Albany working on the budget on Monday, said he is currently working on the passage of legislation that would direct the New York Power Authority to designate proceeds from the sale of replacement and expansion power sold in the open market for the benefit of economic development projects within 30 miles of the power project in Lewiston.