Thursday November 1, 2012 | By:Felice E. Krycia-associate editor | News
Assemblyman Sean Ryan (D) District 144, is running for election for the redrawn District 149, which includes the Town of Hamburg.
Endorsed by the Democrat and Working Families parties, Ryan was elected to the New York State Assembly in Sept. 13, 2011 to fill the unexpired term of William “Sam” Hoyt III, who had been appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo as regional president for Empire State Development Corp.
With the redistricting of the state, Ryan’s territory has moved from covering Grand Island and the western part of the City of Buffalo, to the section of the City of Buffalo (where Buffalo State College is located, along with West Ferry, Lafayette and Niagara streets), down Route 5 through the City of Lackawanna and the Town of Hamburg.
A Lackawanna native and Buffalo resident, Ryan said this new district is like a homecoming for him.
“I grew up in Lackawanna and because my mother is from Hamburg and grandparents live in Hamburg, I spent a lot of time in Hamburg,” Ryan said. “I attended St. Francis High School as a freshman and sophomore and I still have family here.”
Ryan said he has also worked with Village of Hamburg officials to get the recent state Historic District designation for Main Street from Lake Street to Buffalo Street.
“That designation is a great way to keep a strong community,” Ryan said. “I feel that continuing to push for Main Street Grants, in the both the Village of Hamburg and the Village of Blasdell are important. I look forward to working with both mayors to help them with the rejuvenation of their villages.”
In addition to working with the villages and their businesses, there are three other large items that Ryan would like to address if re-elected for a full two-year term.
“First off we have to get the funding back into education. When the state cut education funding, that is when all the school districts had to lay off teachers. When we gave them a 4 percent budget increase, they were able to keep their staffing and programs. When they only got a 2 percent increase, that’s what led to layoffs of teachers and aides and programs, such as art, music, etc. were dropped.
“We have to get this straightened around, get priorities right and bring back the teachers, aides and programs,” he said.
His second priority is on how the economic development of the area is handled.
“When our town industrial development agencies use tax incentives for small businesses that don’t generate enough income to allow their employees to live in that community, that is not the right use,” Ryan said.
According to Ryan, when a sales tax incentive is given to a business in a town, it affects every resident in Erie County.
“Sales taxes are collected within the whole state, with each county getting their percentage. When a business is granted a sales tax incentive, where they don’t pay sales tax for so many years, all the residents of that county lose the money. These incentives need to be used more wisely than they have been.”
Ryan is currently supporting a proposal which would change how the five town IDAs, including the one in Hamburg, would be able to proceed in handling projects, requiring them to work more closely with the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.
“The IDAs should be focusing on the bigger businesses, things that will bring people into their community, like HIDA developing that industrial/commercial property on Route 5 and Bayview Road,” he said. “If the proposal is approved, the town IDAs would still be able to offer incentives to qualified businesses, but they would be presenting it to the ECIDA for approval.
“This would help prevent some of the issues that are occurring now. I believe this would help all the IDAs focus on larger and more beneficial projects. It would also allow for more public input, something that is really lacking,” he said.
The third item on Ryan’s list is waterfront development.
“This would serve the whole community,” Ryan said. “There has been some action down there but it needs to continue. This district is actually the ‘Waterfront District’ and we need to focus on that,” he said.
Ryan said there needs to be a concentrated effort made in Albany to get more funding into the waterfront projects and he, along with other assembly members, plan to continue the push for that funding.
“I am really excited about the change in the district. For me, this is great because I have a real connection to Blasdell, Hamburg and Lackawanna. This is where I grew up,” he said.
Ryan is a graduate of SUNY College at Fredonia and the Brooklyn Law School and as a lawyer worked with the Learning Disabilities Association of WNY, concentrating on the rights of disabled students, and the Legal Aide Bureau of Buffalo.
In 2008, he began working with People United for Sustainable Housing, Inc. to create a non-profit development entity called the Buffalo Neighborhood Stabilization Company, Inc. and served as the executive director and general counsel. He helped secure over $3 million in funding for construction projects to turn vacant housing into affordable housing. Ryan also helped secure a grant “Gateway to Grant Street,” which provides $500,000 in funding to business owners along Grant Street in the City of Buffalo.
He has served on the board of directors and has provided legal representation to numerous non-profit organizations including: Buffalo Niagara River Keeper, Housing Opportunities Made Equal, Autistic Services, Inc., Coalition for Economic Justice and the City of Buffalo’s Living Wage Commission.
He and his wife, Catherine Creighton, live in Buffalo and they have two daughters.