Please inform yourself and vote

The last sands are slipping through the hourglass on this 2017 election season, and we are all faced with a series of questions as ballots are cast.

The first question is whether to take the time to vote. Regardless of your feelings on the outcome of last year’s Presidential Election, you must acknowledge it shows the power of the vote– and the power of the lack of a vote.

If voting is important to you, please make sure your friends and family get a nudge from you to spend the five or ten minutes to participate in our democracy.

The best way to help people get to the polls is familiarizing them with not only what’s at stake in this election, but also what the choices are.  Make that trip to your polling station fast and easy by knowing what you are going to do before you get there.

SAMPLE BALLOT

This is a sample of the ballot I’ll be voting on Tuesday morning.  You can get an exact image of your ballot (if you live in Erie County) and find your polling place by filling out the information on this page: Erie County Board of Elections Sample Ballot.  Even just clicking on the image above will familiarize you with the judicial and countywide races no matter where you live in Erie County.

I am proud to endorse every candidate on Row A of this ballot, but if you still have questions about any of the countywide candidates, The League of Women Voters produce a great resource, The League of Women Voters Guide. Click to read statements from each of the countywide candidates as well as county legislature candidates.

Propositions

The back of the ballot has three propositions on it this year. You’ve probably heard about the Constitutional Convention, but maybe less about the other two. You can click and read exactly what will appear on the ballot, and I discuss each below.

Prop 1

Those who ask you to vote yes on the constitutional convention say it’s an opportunity to fix many problems inherent in the way state government operates.  Those asking to vote no cite the cost and potential ramifications of change.

Like most New Yorkers, I can come up with a list as long as my arm if we are going to start talking about problems in state government. I am voting NO, however, because I haven’t heard any idea the would mitigate the undue influence of special interests in making changes that are not wholly in the best interest of us.

Prop 2

If passed, this would give a judge the ability to take away the pension of a public official who is convicted of a crime RELATED TO HIS/HER OFFICE. This isn’t about an Assemblyman getting a DWI and losing his pension. This is about graft and corruption and official misconduct. I am voting YES on this one.

Prop 3

The Adirondack State Park is unique in that parklands include towns and villages with populations of more than 100,000 people, whose homes and public works infrastructure are part of “one of the great experiments in conservation in the industrialized world,” mixing wilderness and residential areas in the park.

Conservation of the area is tantamount, both in the hearts of the residents and the eyes of the law– but sometimes the world of human and nature collide and the fix becomes difficult.

This law would allow for small tracts of protected land to be used for public works projects like rebuilding washed out roads or putting in new water lines.

When these projects are scheduled, they can work around– but when a water main collapses or floods wash out a road, it often takes a three year process of state legislature approval and approval by voters statewide as a proposition.

Everyone I’ve heard from or read about from the North Country– including conservationists– say this makes sense.  I’m voting YES.

Please Vote on Tuesday, November 7th

I hope you will get to the polls and encourage your friends to get out to vote.  It would be an honor to serve as your next Erie County Clerk, and the only way that will happen is with your vote. Thank you.

A Trusted Voice

Vote for the candidate with real world experience and a new voice: Vote Steve Cichon for Erie County Clerk on November 7th.

Posted by Steve Cichon for Erie County Clerk on Sunday, October 22, 2017

 

 

Cichon Promises a Clerk’s Office that Reflects Our Community, Pledges parity in pay and leadership

(Buffalo, NY) – Steve Cichon, candidate for Erie County Clerk, promises that under his leadership, the County Clerk’s will ensure pay parity and will hire a management team of deputy clerks that is at least half women.

Cichon’s pledges come in the wake of reports that the wage gap between men and women is wider in Western New York than other parts of the state. With women comprising half of the world’s population, Cichon, the endorsed Women’s Equality Party candidate, believes it only makes sense to have the Clerk’s office be representative.

“As Clerk, I can begin to fix a small part of what’s been wrong for too long. The way we begin to equal the income scales between men and women is to make sure that women have equal access to the best paying jobs. I pledge that my management team, particularly the deputy clerks, will be comprised of at least half women. This seems like common sense to me, but has never happened in the history of the office.”

Cichon contrasted his approach with that of his opponent, Assemblyman Michael P. “Mickey” Kearns, who voted against equal pay laws as an Assemblyman in 2013 and 2014 and touts his anti-choice voting record on campaign literature.

“Kearns has a record of voting against marginalized populations: women, the LGBTQ community, refugees and immigrants. At the same time, he aligns himself with Carl Paladino and Conservative Party Chair Ralph Lorigo in order to further his own political career. I think our government should be reflective of our community. We need to work to make sure more citizens are heard and included in the process.”

Erie County’s Pistol Permit Process is broken

Years of letting a growing problem fester are coming to a head at the Erie County Clerk’s Office— the Pistol Permit process is broken. We deserve better.

Courtesy wgrz.com

All around Erie County, people are telling me it’s taking 18-23 months to get a pistol permit, when it only takes three months in neighboring counties.

That’s a 700% longer wait to get a pistol permit in Erie County than for folks who live minutes away.

Instead of trying to make the process easier, this summer, the current leadership at the clerk’s office closed the satellite pistol permit office in Cheektowaga—- because of “staffing problems” (which is a just another way to say bad planning and management).

Erie County's Pistol Permit Process is broken

It's a 700% longer wait to get a pistol permit in Erie County than in neighboring counties. We can do better!

Posted by Steve Cichon for Erie County Clerk on Tuesday, August 22, 2017

As if that’s not enough– now there are privacy leaks now too. James has been waiting nearly a year and a half for a pistol permit. The envelope was addressed to him, the letter had his name on it, but enclosed was pistol permit for a woman named Amanda– complete with her private information.

The Pistol Permit office at the Erie County Clerk’s Office needs new leadership and new ideas. It looks like we need to open offices, not close them. We need to hire the staff necessary to properly serve the people of Erie County– just like they do in our neighboring counties.

We need a speedier, more efficient system in place. To make that happen, I’ll bring together our local police departments and our State Supreme Court to find ways we can work together to make a drawn out process more manageable for all of us and our citizens– Because that’s what leaders do.

And it goes without saying that we can’t be flip with our citizens private information. We must stop any breech of privacy and security and make certain that when we send out critical documents like pistol permits, the mail is double checked and triple checked.

It’s common sense– at least it is for me. I’ve never run for office before, and I want to bring a new voice, new vision, and common sense to county government.

We shouldn’t have to choose between Convenience or Community

It’s written in a bold font at the bottom of New York State Department of Motor Vehicles correspondence. It says “Skip The Trip To The DMV,” with a web address to renew your license or registration online.

Convenience or Community?

Convenience or Community? We shouldn't have to make that choice, but right now, we do. http://www.steveforclerk.com/wordpress/conveniencevscommunity/

Posted by Steve Cichon for Erie County Clerk on Friday, August 11, 2017

While on the surface, it sounds like our friendly state government offering a more convenient way to access its services, it’s also an Albany cash grab. Your hard earned money gets dumped into the black hole that is the state budget.

When you renew your license at an Erie County Auto Bureau location, the fees are reinvested in Erie County, allowing the clerk’s office to provide road maintenance and plowing, and funding for public transportation and specialized services for the handicapped and elderly.

It’s only right that the DMV fees paid by residents of Erie County stay in Erie County to help us here at home. The drivers of Erie County shouldn’t have to choose between convenience and taking care of our own relatives and neighbors and our own roads.

I have written a letter to Executive Deputy DMV Commissioner Theresa L. Egan demanding a solution to the problem for the people of Erie County.

And I promise, should you honor me with election to the clerk’s office, come January 1st, this becomes more than a letter—it becomes a blue print for action. If Albany won’t share the proceeds from online renewals, we’ll figure out a way to do it ourselves. They won’t like it, but they can go ahead and sue me. We have common sense and doing what’s right on our side.

Reminding The President of all that’s great in WNY

I wrote this letter and dropped it in the mail this morning, after President Trump told the Wall Street Journal yesterday that “upper New York State” residents should not worry about their houses and leave the “hurting” area. Standing up for our region is a non-partisan issue, and I hope my opponent, Congressman Chris Collins, and Republicans in every corner of Upstate New York will join me in condemning this damaging rhetoric about the region we love and are working so hard to bring back to vitality.

I wrote this letter and dropped it in the mail this morning, after President Trump told the Wall Street Journal…

Posted by Steve Cichon for Erie County Clerk on Thursday, July 27, 2017

 

Translating the President’s budget into Erie County numbers

As one of only four countywide elected offices, it’s imperative that the County Clerk make his or her voice heard on the important issues that face the residents of Erie County– whether it’s something that crosses the clerk’s desk or not.

I pledge to re-establish a strong public advocacy role for the office. I promise to be a leader who will fight to protect our community’s most vulnerable and work to sustain the environment that continues to fuel our region’s recovery.

Locked in the details of President Trump’s recently released budget are a long list of cuts that would leave the people of Western New York reeling, and leave institutions like Roswell Park, efforts to cleanup Lake Erie, and and our community’s fight against the opioid epidemic devastated.

Programs serving Erie County’s children and the elderly are devastated under the federal budget proposed by President Trump.

In addition, Trump’s budget would slash funding to healthcare for seniors and children, as well as eliminate the Home Energy Assistance Program.

Assemblyman Michael Kearns, who is now running on the Republican line for County Clerk, has been strangely silent about these cuts and their impact on our community.

This budget is an assault on Western New York and our families. I envision the County Clerk as a strong advocate on behalf of citizens and taxpayers, and I will speak up when decisions are made at any level of government that will harm our community.

As Erie County Clerk, I will work closely with other elected officials and community leaders to fight these cuts and to ensure that Western New York gets the funding our tax dollars pay for.

· Trump’s budget eliminates the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which funds pollution cleanup, watershed restoration and other work.

· The presidents of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the University at Buffalo have stated Trump’s proposal to put a cap on medical research overhead, “…shuts off the lights in the labs we have now.”

· Trump’s budget would do away with the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, which has funded local projects such as Cars on Main Street and the extension of Metro Rail to the DL&W Terminal.

Western New York is experiencing a revitalization that few of us could have imagined even a few years ago, and that turnaround started with the waterfront and the comeback of downtown Buffalo. Cars on Main Street opened up our central business district, and the Medical Campus is fueling a boom in supportive businesses and housing. We have worked too hard and waited too long to stop now. We cannot allow Donald Trump to stop us in our tracks. I am prepared to fight for Western New York.

Where is Michael Kearns’ voice in this fight? He’s abdicating his obligation to fight for Western New York, as he joins Team Trump at the expense of our community.

· Trump cuts funding to the Office of National Drug Control Policy by 94% and eliminates the “Drug-Free Communities Support Group” and the “High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas” grant programs.

· Trump cuts $839 billion from Medicaid, which provides 200,000 people in Erie County with healthcare, including 60% of all nursing home patients.

· Trump’s budget includes a 19% Cut to the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which currently serves 9,000 kids in Erie County.

· Trump ends the Home Energy Assistance Program, which currently serves 225,000 people in Erie County.

· Trump’s budget eliminates a program that trains private contractors on lead removal and may eliminate a $970 million Home Partnership program that provides funding to remove lead paint from homes.

· Trump would cut $9 million from local after school programs.

What really distinguishes our region is a sense of community that is almost palpable. ‘The City of Good Neighbors’ is more than a slogan when our fellow citizens are in need. Cutting programs that service children and the elderly just to provide a tax cut to the top 1% goes against our values.

I oppose these heartless attacks on our most valuable. I have chosen to stand with the people of Erie County.

By his silence, one can only assume that Mickey Kearns is standing with by the cuts offered by Donald Trump.

Making serving those who have served a priority: Thank a Vet 2.0

By Steve Cichon
Endorsed Democrat for Erie County Clerk

Making our veterans a priority

As your Erie County Clerk, making sure our veterans know all of the services available to them through the Clerk's office— and offering more services– will be a top priority. Read more: http://www.steveforclerk.com/wordpress/making-serving-those-who-have-served-a-priority-thank-a-vet-2-0/

Posted by Steve Cichon for Erie County Clerk on Saturday, May 20, 2017

 

As your Erie County Clerk, making sure our veterans know all of the services available to them through the office—and offering more services– will be a top priority.

It’s unconscionable, but right now, possible changes and uncertainty at the federal level may leave our many of our nation’s veterans unable to get federal ID cards identifying their veteran status. Many of the services and benefits offered to vets can only be accessed with proof of status.

This is an issue that is a personal one for me. My father was a disabled veteran. Whether taking them to appointments or making sick visits, I spent many hours at Buffalo’s VA Hospital with my dad, my grandfathers, and the hundreds of men who were their roommates through the years.

Dad, the young Marine

They all deserve better—and we should be doing all that we can to insure that they enjoy, to the fullest,   the freedom they sacrificed to protect.

One of the most basic services is a veteran designation on a driver’s license or non-driver ID, available at Erie County’s six Auto Bureau locations.

An honorably discharged veteran can have a VETERAN designation added to their drivers’ license or non-driver ID at renewal time at no charge or anytime for the cost of a new license. It’s as easy as filling out a new driver’s license application and checking the box marked “veteran status,” and bringing proof of your honorable discharge to the DMV. Full information on how to take advantage of the program is available at the state DMV website.

This is an important service available to veterans right now, but when I’m elected clerk, we will add new services for veterans as well.

Among my first priorities will be making sure that every veteran who has his or her DD-214 separation paperwork kept on file at the Clerk’s office is fully aware of all the services available to them through county government.

Many humble vets might not want the word VETERAN added to their drivers license on the face of it, but once they understand the number of businesses and organizations which are willing to offer them some level of gratitude for their service with proof of service—including discounts on thousands of products and services– they might be willing to take that step to get the honor they deserve.

Using existing technology, we will also put veterans in the fast lane at our auto bureau locations—Women and men who have served out country will receive expedited service as a small courtesy and thank you from the people of Erie County for their sacrifice and service.

This is in addition to the Thank a Vet card which is currently available at the Clerk’s office downtown and gives vets access to discounts at businesses across Western New York.

Helping our nation’s veterans take advantage of every service offered to them should be a top priority for every government agency—and when I’m elected Erie County Clerk, there will be an immediate renewed and expanded commitment to vets with expanded service.

Getting to Know Your New Voice

I’m Steve Cichon, a new voice for Erie County Government.

Spending the last 25 years telling the great stories of Western New York has given me great insight into the the way we live in this area I’m proud to call home.

From producing football games with Hall of Famers at the height of four straight, to writing five books about Buffalo’s history and it’s people, to spending a decade as covering stories from snow storms to murders to budget crises to pushing our leaders for answers.

All the while, behind the scenes, I was a manager– leading teams that over-performed and came in under budget.

And now I’m ready to take what I’ve learned and put it to work for the people of our great community.

I’m Steve Cichon– Looking for your vote to become your next Erie County Clerk.

 

There is no easy fix for WNY’s abandoned home crisis

By Steve Cichon
Endorsed Democrat for Erie County Clerk

Neighborhoods all over Western New York are suffering from the effects of abandoned or poorly maintained properties. Good people who work hard to maintain their homes and build their communities are too often left with an eyesore and a health hazard that seems beyond their reach to fix.

It’s an issue my neighborhood has dealt with and like many Western New Yorkers,  we know first hand that the path to a resolution is never straight forward.

Promising to solve this problem with lawn signs and press conferences hasn’t worked, which is why, when I announced my candidacy in April, I made the creation of a “zombie homes” task-force the centerpiece of my campaign for clerk.

Modeled on the successful approach in Monroe County, I want to bring banks, lawyers and elected officials together with affected neighbors. We can begin to identify abandoned properties, pinpoint where there are lapses in the processes and laws and then, most importantly—create mechanisms to make sure that the situations that lead to abandoned and zombie homes aren’t allowed to progress to that point in the future.

While it doesn’t make for a quick slogan for another political campaign, the truth is that this is a difficult problem that doesn’t have one single solution. Every property, every municipality, every bank, every situation is different.

Instead of engaging in political bluster and finger pointing, as your Erie County Clerk, I will get to work– and it’s a lot of work– not an idea that fits on a bumper sticker.

As your Erie County Clerk, it’s my pledge to work on problems facing our community through hard work and relationship building—not with public shaming and the first politically expedient idea to pop up.