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Artvoice Weekly Edition » Issue v9n34 (08/25/2010) » Eight Questions With...

Rory Allen: State Senate Candidate

Get to know a Buffalonian...

A political newcomer, Allen is one of three candidates running in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary for the State Senate’s 60th district—which covers most of Buffalo and Niagara Falls. The small business owner of Buffalo’s Zoom Copy, Allen faces a tough race against a substantially greater funded incumbent in Antoine Thompson and the former state senator Al Coppola.

What have you learned from running a business that would prepare you for public service?

I’ve learned that you have got to be focused, persistent, ask a lot of questions, offer creative solutions and most importantly listen to be successful. My whole life has prepared me for this position. I will wake up every morning and ask myself, “What did I do to help bring companies with good jobs come to Western NY.”

How would you provide a different kind of leadership from that of Antoine Thompson? What do you think is wrong with the political climate in Albany nowadays?

My opponents core focus seems to be getting re-elected. My core focus will be on getting people back to work. I will spend the first 3 months identifying the right businesses for Western NY and the next 21 months listening to those businesses and persistently working to get them to come here and bring jobs. After all, people’s ability to find work helps to fix a lot of other problems.

What do you feel is the biggest hindrance to the small business development in Western New York? What specific measures would you propose to encourage growth?

We need a coordinated effort from our IDA’s and local governments. In general we need to focus our effort on companies operating in more primary industries. Succeeding at this will only create an abundance of tertiary opportunities. My plan to develop business in WNY involves three things 1. Vision: Having a plan and executing the plan to create critical mass in concentrated areas. 2. Focus: A local and state government that spends most of it’s time asking primary industry companies what it would take to get them to set up here . 3. Listening: After receiving that feedback, working to adjust any policy or condition that makes us a more competitive place for those businesses to start or move here.

What are the easiest and most attainable ways to transform Buffalo and Niagara Falls into a more “urban” (walkable, dense, livable) cities?

I am a strong proponent of new-urbanism. Encouraging developers to adhere to the principal of building places that people want to walk around is a good first step. A good rule of thumb is walkers, bike riders, then cars. Traffic calming is also worth the investment. There is a direct correlation between the speed at which vehicles can travel down your street and the value of your property. The slower the better.

What is your strategy for taking on a strong incumbent with a large financial advantage?

Grass Roots. Western NY is a tight network of people that talk to each other. My message is simple and will hopefully travel. We are knocking on a lot of doors. My opponent can not fix his broken reputation with money. I just need to let them know who I am. I need people to tell other people. “It’s September 14th, go vote for Rory Allen.”

How does Al Coppola change the dynamics of this race? Are you concerned you could potentially be drawing votes from each other, thus easing Thompson’s re-election?

Al Coppola will likely get the same 10% of votes he got the last four times he ran. Remember, Al Coppola ran against his own cousin. Normally, people are concerned about their legacy. Al Coppola’s legacy will likely be “the spoiler”.

What is the most interesting thing you have you learned about your district from campaigning door-to-door?

Top 5? 1. People who talk the most, don’t usually vote. 2. People seem to be single issue voters. 3. The lower socio-economic level of the voter, the more likely my race will be a factor in their vote. 4. Voters registered as “independent” associate that with actually having more independence. 5. My biggest endorsement is that I am not Antoine Thompson.

What makes you different from other campaign “outsiders” who have made promises of reform in the past?

I am business owner however I do not think government should be run like a business. The government has a role to serve all of its citizens and do what’s best for the greater good. I will work hard to make WNY’ers proud of their State Senator again.

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