CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. — A potential $400,000 severance payout to its executive director should he be pushed out the office is just the latest controversy surrounding the Erie County Water Authority. Gubernatorial candidate Joel Giambra said dysfunction and mismanagement date back to at least when he was county executive more than a decade ago.
"In essence, both the Republican and Democratic parties for years have been taking turns abusing the ratepayers of Erie County. It's time to end the charade," he said.
The problem, Giambra said, is the authority is political by design. Tuesday, he called for it to either be absorbed by county government or privatized. He said Erie County could be an example of positive reform as he focuses his platform, in part, on the inadequacies of the public authority system.
"We're going to look at reforms all across the state, from Jamestown to Montauk, whether it's redundant, inefficient local governments, as governor you have a very huge bully pulpit and a lot of authority to make the changes that I tried to make as county executive and was not very successful because of state law," Giambra said.
The candidate said taking on both major political parties will also be a common thread of his campaign. Last week, after failing to gain much traction with state Republicans, Giambra withdrew his name from consideration for the party's nomination.
"It's obvious to me after going around the state for the last two months that the Republican Party is deficient. It doesn't have any real leadership right now. The Conservative Party is the tail wagging the dog," he said.
Giambra is pursuing the Reform Party nomination. No third-party candidate has won the governorship under the modern political system.
"I was encouraged by the fact that in Syracuse just last November, they elected a mayor on the Independent line, a third-party candidate. I believe that the people of the state of New York and the people of this country are quite frankly very tired of the leadership that both parties have been attempting to provide," Giambra said.