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Artvoice Weekly Edition » Issue v9n36 (09/08/2010) » Five Questions With...

Al Coppola: State Senate Candidate

Get to know a Buffalonian

Al Coppola has been a persistent voice in Western New York politics for more than 30 years. The long-time Delaware District representative on the Common Council is now taking another shot at the 60th District State Senate seat, which he occupied in 2000, before losing it to Byron Brown. We asked him to talk about his plans, his strategies, and his Democratic primary opponents.

You’ve had already had a long career in politics, including a stint as the state senator for the 60th District. So why are you running now?

Because as a former businessman on Main Street for 20 years, I still see the same foolish spending with taxpayer’s money. The NFTA’s mistake wasn’t limited to only destroying businesses downtown. For three years they worked in front of my restaurant and for all intents and purposes closed us down with their harebrained scheme.

What do you make of the incumbent?

Last week the public learned that Antoine Thompson cost the University of Buffalo 20,000 new jobs. One of our area’s top labor organizations withdrew its support of him. The Buffalo Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents construction workers in 18 separate locals, says Thompson cost the area lost an additional 8,000 to 9,000 construction jobs. Thompson represents a significant number of minority constituents. A third of construction jobs resulting from the proposal would have been reserved for women and minorities.

Thompson should never have gone to Jamaica during the budget crisis and then tell WGRZ-TV to wait just a few months and they will see how his trip will have brought jobs to Buffalo. Senators should have to stay in Albany for a 5 day work week and not a 3 day work week until a budget is passed and they should never be making false promises with taxpayer’s money.

What’s your strategy for beating him and Rory Allen next week?

I’m promising that I will eliminate stipends. I believe all legislators should forfeit all salaries during late budgets. You have to curtail franking privileges and show leadership as an elected senator instead of always following New York City’s orders. Right now you have a situation where, when New York City says to jump, our representatives ask, “How high?” If they tell me to jump, I will tell them to go take a leap.

Name three things you’d like to accomplish as senator.

1. Lower the energy costs, repeal the two energy surcharge. New York State has the second-highest electric cost after Alaska, yet we produce the cleanest electric in the world right here in our own backyards.

2. Lower the cost of doing business in New York State. We are not competitive, we must lower taxes. We are taxed as much California and Texas combined. Tax-and-spend politicians such as my opponent have to be brought under control.

3. Let’s do something about the environment. No one in Albany is paying attention to the pollution in Western New York. In the year 2000 as state senator, I was able to enact a law which forbade hospitals from burning medical wastes throughout the cities. If I’m elected state senator a second time, I will immediately begin the process of removing all the pollution in Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Right now it’s as if no one knows about it or cares about it.

Last week, another Democrat, Rory Allen, accused you in this paper of being the spoiler in this race who will ensure Antoine Thompson stays in office. How do you respond?

I’ve been a spoiler since 1977 when government came along and spoiled my business on Main Street and I fought back. I won 17 consecutive races, primaries and general elections. I have a track record. I had been campaigning against Thompson for months when his poll numbers began to plummet. Only then, coincidently, a third party entered the race. It’s comical for someone to enter any race months after there are two competitors and call one of the others a spoiler. A vote for Mr. Allen is a vote for Mr. Thompson, and they planned it that way.

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