One of the big political races in Niagara County this year is probably going to be the 138th Assembly race. It is becoming increasingly apparent that Niagara Falls native Gary Parenti is contemplating a run against incumbent Democrat Francine Delmonte.
The 138th includes the city of Niagara Falls, and the towns of Niagara, Lewiston, Porter, Wheatfield, Hartfield, Cambria and Newfane. It has a Democratic plurality- with its Niagara Falls population- but a lot of beautiful, but sparsely populated rural (and Republican) Niagara –Ontario Lake country.
Parenti, a registered Democrat, will likely primary Delmonte, but it would not surprise too many in the Falls if he ran with the support of State Senator George Maziarz and other Republicans.
Parenti is a close ally of democrat Steve Pigeon, and, recently turned Republican, Tom Golisano- both of whom will probably support Parenti’s campaign.
DelMonte is an ally of Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver- who has not had amiable feelings toward Parenti's ally Pigeon. Parenti once worked for Silver.
From what we hear on the streets -- Delmonte is taking the Parenti challenge seriously and is trying to line up support amongst the people who might be otherwise friendly to both her and Parenti.
In a place like Niagara Falls, there are literally scores of politically active players who have known both Parenti and Delmonte for years. According to our sources, Francine’s brother, attorney John DelMonte- who has been Francine’s campaign manager - has contacted a number of these co-friendly people to ascertain whom they’ll support in the upcoming election.
While Parenti has not definitely announced he will run - most observers take it as a forgone conclusion that he will. Of potential candidates, he may be the one most likely to unseat DelMonte.
DelMonte has been opposed to Maziarz- the real power broker in the Sate Senate in Niagara County – and therefore will have to fend off attacks from Republicans – which may be vigorously waged. The Republicans may field a candidate, as well as possibly support Parenti, and several names have surfaced.
On top of that, after eight years in office, the dissatisfaction and impatience in the Falls with Albany incumbency is particularly great.
With high electric power costs -- caused by Albany’s New York Power Authority usurpation of the local hydro power, and with Albany’s control of the Niagara Falls State Park-- which diverts tourists dollars away from the city and into Albany’s coffers, and finally – the Albany “mother of them all” – the gargantuan giveaway—Albany’s creation of a tax-free foreign country called Seneca in prime downtown Niagara Falls – which is putting small, tax-paying businesses- literally- out of business- since they cannot compete against tax-free Seneca- - people around here are a little sick of Albany.
DelMonte may get backlash from it.
Contrarily, Parenti is seen truly as the fair- haired boy. After resigning from the staff of Byron Brown last year, out of loyalty to his long- time friend Steve Pigeon; Parenti gained immense credibiltiy and was seen as the true blue and faithful friend. Brown, although technically representing the Falls, Parenti was the man the people would go to for help. After leaving Brown, Parenti worked on a number of business and political projects, and recently managed the successful campaign of Sam Fruscione for Niagara Falls City Council.
Fruscione was the highest vote getter of six council candidates, and Parenti- who is probably one of the best known figures in Niagara Falls - went door to door with him.
‘Why I thought Gary was running,” said Shellene Reich, a Fruscione supporter. “Gary may be the most likeable guy in Niagara Falls. Everyone knows him. Everyone likes him. He did a lot for Sam – no doubt about it. And if he runs- well in my opinion- he will win Niagara Falls. Gary could be mayor if he wanted- or anything else around here. Everybody knows him and admires him.”