Sources are telling Niagara Times that Lewiston Town Councilman Ernie Palmer is moving forward with plans to challenge incumbent Francine DelMonte in the 138th Assembly District race this year. Palmer has put together a "kitchen cabinet" of advisers, is putting together a budget, developing a website and compiling a master list of issues to be utilized against DelMonte. Palmer, who recently submitted his retirement papers from the Niagara Falls Police Department, will be a formidable candidate.
DelMonte, for her part, should be concerned, regardless of who her opposition is. There is a strong anti-incumbency backlash, as evidenced by the results of November's elections, especially towards Democrats in Albany.
At some point, the people of Niagara Falls have to take a look at who has been there through the decade-long decline of the city. While DelMonte has been the city's fixture in Albany, the city's state senators have included Antoine Thompson, Byron Brown, Anthony Nanula and Mark Coppolla. During her tenure, state taxes and fees have increased exponentially, she opposed a school property tax cap, she refused to allow the issue of casino gaming to go to a referendum so the people of this state could decide if they want casino gambling (so we're left fighting for scraps after the Senecas and Albany get their shares), she supported the sweep of $550 million in NYPA profits generated right here in Niagara County to fill the gaping budget hole in Albany that she helped create and she has supported taking millions of dollars out of the state parks in Niagara Falls.
In the towns, she's got even bigger problems. Her diverting of hundreds of thousands in casino revenue away from the towns to Niagara Falls is going to hurt her badly.
Frankly, I hope it does. She has been nothing but Sheldon Silver's beckon call girl in Albany, voting with him 99% of the time.
Not to mention the fact that her anointed one, Nick Melson, was defeated by Vince Sandanato in the Fifth County Legislative District face in November. Melson's entire platform revolved around his connections to Albany as a DelMonte staffer. That race was unequivocally a referendum on DelMonte.
With Palmer in the race, she should be very concerned. He will be strong in the towns and he will be strong in the city. And upon retiring, he will have plenty of time to devote to the rigors of campaigning. Hopefully the people of the 138th will come to their senses and dump do-nothing DelMonte. Of course, I'm sure her boy Richie Kessel will be more than happy to find her a job with the Power Authority, should she need one. Let's hope that she does.