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 Auto Bureau. 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 Auto Bureau locations 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.