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Candidates for Assembly seat focus on economy

October 21, 2012
By MICHAEL ANICH , The Leader Herald

Republican state Assemblyman Marc W. Butler has served 17 years in the state Legislature and is seeking re-election to another two-year term representing this area.

However, a Herkimer County resident stands in his way.

Democratic businessman Joseph Chilelli of Herkimer will square off against Butler in the general election Nov. 6.

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Democrat Joseph Chilelli is trying to unseat incumbent Republican Assemblyman Marc. W. Butler.

In addition to holding the Republican line, Butler will also be on the Conservative and Independence lines Nov. 6. The Newport resident currently represents the 117th Assembly District.

But as a result of redistricting by the state Legislature starting next year, Butler's new 118th Assembly seat adds a large geographic portion of rural St. Lawrence County, as well as Hamilton County and some of Lewis County. It includes all of Fulton County, as well as parts of Herkimer and Oneida counties.

The 60-year-old Butler recently articulated why he is running again in the Assembly.

"I think it is for a couple of reasons," he said. "I have the experience and the background, and I'm in a position to be a leader."

Butler said the main issues affecting the state - like other parts of the country - are "the economy and jobs." Other concerns include environmental and water quality concerns, as well as hydrofracking, he said.

"In New York state, we need a number of things to get the fiscal house in order," Butler said. "We need to lower taxes and more than ever, there's over-regulation."

Butler was first elected to the 113th District of state Assembly in 1995.

As a result of reapportionment, he was elected in the fall of 2002 to his latest 117th Assembly District.

He is the ranking minority member on the Assembly Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry Committee.

Butler said he has more work to do in Albany, where legislators seem to be fostering more cooperation with Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

"I will actually give the governor credit," the assemblyman said. "I think early in his tenure he reached out to the legislature. He wanted to work with us."

Butler said he is proud of the fact he has been able to work with the majority members of the Democratically-controlled Assembly.

He said he also has a "very good relationship" with certain members of the Senate, such as Republican Sens. Hugh T. Farley and James L. Seward.

"We function as a team," Butler said. "I think that's very important."

Regional ideas

The 46-year-old Chilelli is a real estate agent and runs an antique furniture and giftware business, La Galleria, in Herkimer.

"I am running because I think the entire region could do so much better," Chilelli stated. "I think the area has so much potential."

As in other places across the state and nation, he said improving the economy is the number one issue.

"The theme is the same, it's all about jobs," Chilelli said. "Politicians don't create jobs. They create the environment to bring jobs in."

He said Albany has to bring down taxes and bring business back. Chilelli said more foreign companies such as Euphrates Inc. an Fage USA, food manufacturers at the Johnstown Industrial Park, can be enticed into the region.

"The first thing we have to do is market ourselves better," he said. "But it's not a one-time, quick fix. You've got to go to business and you've got to start creating the base."

He said Route 30A in Fulton County is a "great" business corridor that can be expanded. The area can be turned into a "bedroom community."

"You have what I see as sparks of growth," Chilelli said.

Chilelli and his wife, Ninfa, have two teenage children. He has spent much of his life on Long Island surrounded and working with many multi-national citizens from around the world. He has worked at places like Kennedy Airport, with large and small companies and most of that time in electronics as an engineer. He also worked for more than eight years with a foreign engineering firm from Germany as a project manager,

He moved to central New York state in 1999, where he invested and started La Galleria. At the same time he got involved with the local community and started St. Anthony's Festival in Herkimer. In 2007, he was elected to the Herkimer County Legislature and started the Concerned Citizens For A Better Herkimer County group.

Chilelli said that in the 13 years he has resided in Herkimer County. He feels the area has become "stagnant." He feels he can make a difference as an outsider in the state Legislature in Albany.

Chilelli said he would challenge many of the conventional ways of thinking in Albany. He said there are people in Fulton County who have never heard of Butler, although he's been the local assemblyman for many years.

Chilelli said Butler is not doing the job the voters elected him to for several years, and he's noticed that Butler many times votes along GOP "party lines."

"I'm not running for one particular party," Chilelli said.

But on the other hand, he said as a Democratic member of the Assembly, he feels he can get more done than Butler working with the Democratic governor.

"From that point of view, I have an advantage," Chilelli said.

Redistricting results

Butler said redistricting within his largely rural district this campaign season has presented a challenge.

"It's a matter of building on opportunities in new areas and new relationships," he said. "In many respects, it's starting over. It's getting in the car and driving to St. Lawrence County."

Butler was appointed in 2006 to the Assembly Minority Task Force on Hunting and Fishing and the Assembly Minority Task Force on Small Business.

Previously, Butler served two terms in the Herkimer County Legislature. In 1993, he was elected majority leader of that body. Prior to that, he was a Newport village trustee and also served as the village's deputy mayor.

In 1986, he joined Utica National Insurance, New Hartford, as a corporate communications specialist. Upon his election to the Assembly, he resigned from that position in order to serve as a full-time state legislator.

From 1976 to 1986, Butler was a reporter for the Utica Observer-Dispatch. He spent most of his 10-year career with the newspaper's Herkimer County bureau office, where he reported extensively on local government and politics.

A lifelong resident of the Mohawk Valley, he currently resides in the village of Newport with his wife Susan. The couple has two children, Caitlin and Jeffrey.

The annual base salary of a member of the state Assembly is $79,500.

The latest state Board of Elections campaign disclosure reports show Butler receiving $27,845 in donations, and Chilelli receiving $3,398 in donations.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at



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