Tonawanda Sun's Pre-Primary Questionnaire Answers
1. What is your age and relevant background (family info, education, previous/current public service, etc.) ?
At this time, I am 42 years of age and have been a lifelong resident of Tonawanda. I am happily married to my wonderful wife Mary Kate (Lachut) and we have four amazing children. My family and I are active parishioners at St. John the Baptist Church in Kenmore. My educational background includes the following: Sweet Home High School 1996, B.A Honors Degree in History / Social Studies Education SUNY Fredonia 2000, and Masters of Science in Education SUNY College at Buffalo 2004. Since 2016, I have had the honor to serve my community as a Town of Tonawanda Council Member. In addition to my duties as a Councilman, I am also a Ken-Ton school teacher, as well as a coach for the past 20 years. During my years as a teacher, I founded and coached the boys and girls Kenmore Rugby teams and have coached the Kenmore West Wrestling team. Over the years, I have actively worked to make our community a better place to live, play, and work. Currently, I am a member of the Clean Air Coalition of WNY and Tonawanda Tomorrow. Additionally, I actively volunteer with the Kenmore Village Improvement Society clean-up and have served on the Erie County Youth Board. Moreover, my wife Mary Kate and I are both current members of the Ken-Ton Chamber of Commerce and the Kenmore Merchants Association.
2. Your current occupation?
For the past 20 years, I have been a social studies teacher at Kenmore West High School. In that capacity, I have served in various leadership roles from department chair to elected union executive. However, my most important role as a teacher is educating and molding my students into our future leaders. Since 2016, I have had the honor of serving on the Town of Tonawanda Town Board. Over the past five years, as a team with community groups, labor, and business owners, our board has fought for the closure of dangerous polluters, developed a state mitigation fund after the closure of the NRG Huntley Plant, and helped to develop a blueprint for our economic future called Tonawanda Tomorrow. Moreover, I led our Town committee on NYSERDA Clean Energy Community Designation and US Department of Energy award winning Solarize campaign, which helped residential homes and turned a landfill into a “bright-field” with solar panels generating low cost, clean energy.
3. Why are you seeking an Assembly seat?
Our community is at a crossroads, COVID -19 has caused financial hardships on an already fragile system. Towns, cities, and villages across WNY are making tough decisions as traditional revenues have been cut. We are going to need a vision for our future and a partner within the New York State government that isn’t going to be a handout but rather a handshake on moving our communities forward. I know what it’s going to take to get the resources our district is going to need and I am fully prepared to make sure we are not left wanting. My vision for serving is based on my core values and commitment to building strong communities through Sustainability, Innovation, and Education. I believe that my core values and vision for our community, along with your support would make me a successful candidate to be our voice in the NYS Assembly. I am working very hard and would appreciate your consideration of my candidacy.
4. What would be your top three goals for a first term?
We need a plan to rebuild after the COVID crisis and my three priorities are Economic Development, Workforce Education, and Placemaking for our community. For Economic Development, we need to position our communities as a center of sustainable domestic manufacturing and trade. For Education, We need to help industries, with the aging workforce in skilled trades and strengthen the career pipelines for our students through a local workforce network. For Placemaking, we need to create access to our waterways and connect our recreation and tourism attractions to the regional initiatives.
5. What do you think are the most pressing concerns in the 140th?
The immediate and most pressing concern will be securing adequate funding for cities, towns, villages, and schools of the 140th Assembly. They are all facing catastrophic budget shortfalls due to the crisis, and they provide critical services on the front lines.