2016 Candidate Surveys

At ASI, advocacy for the cultural sector is an important part of what we do in service of the area’s 300-plus not for profit cultural organizations, their thousands of employees, and the hundreds of thousands who invest in the cultural sector through their attendance, service, and donations.

Each election cycle, Arts Services Initiative poses a series of questions to candidates for elected office across the region, focusing on the legislative and executive branches. The survey begins with five questions asked of all candidates, followed by questions specific to the office they seek; the survey focuses on the role of the arts in public life and educations and the role that government and community play in supporting the arts. 

Completed surveys will be printed unedited in The Public (except for those answers that exceed the word limit) prior to the general election (and also prior to the primary election for those seats with an active primary) and will be made available throughout the election season electronically via The Public, Arts Services Initiative of WNY, Greater Buffalo Cultural Alliance, and many cultural organizations. Those who do not respond will be listed in the publication and noted as “Chose not to respond to survey”. In total, it is estimated that this survey will be seen by over 75,000 constituents of the cultural community.

Please complete the below survey no later than 5PM on Friday, September 30.

NOTE: If you are running in the 60th Senate, 143rd Assembly, or 146th Assembly Districts, please complete this survey no later than 5PM on Wednesday, August 31.

NYS Senate & NYS Assembly Survey
U.S. Senate & U.S. House of Representatives Survey
See the 2016 survey responses below (NOTE: only the primary election is listed at this time, all others will be posted after September 30).

NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY, 143RD DISTRICT (DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY)

KRISTY MAZUREK, Democrat

Current occupation and employer: PR/Media, Bus Dev/ Pres. Successful Strategies, Inc

Please list your top three priorities if elected.
Make sure the State invests in programs that will continue to revitalize the entire region and stimulate the economy by creating high paying, private sector jobs encouraging more people to come and work and continue to live in the region.

Work with local municipalities, community civic organizations and cultural groups to access State Grants to improve the quality of life in the Cheektowaga, Depew, Lancaster and Sloan.

Clean-up Albany by enacting tough ethics and campaign finance reform to increase government accountability, transparency and restore trust in State Government.

What is the role of arts and culture in community development and revitalization? 
Arts and Cultural activities are one of the most important components in revitalizing a community. Every city, town, village and region have a story to tell and that story can best be expressed through their cultural, social and artistic history.

What is the role of arts and culture in your plans for economic development in Western New York?
As someone who has been involved since the age of 3 in dance groups and the performing arts, I know how important these activities are in building a vibrant community. I will support public investment in the arts and cultural organizatons of WNY, so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of these institutions.

How would you develop cultural and heritage tourism in Western New York?
I would seek public investment in creative ideas, like the Polonia Trail, that embrace the rich diversity of our area.  Cultural tourism is one of the fastest growing segments in our economy and we need to provide a small investment that will bring rewards to our region.

In what ways would you support young people’s access to the arts in order to foster the creative thinking skills needed to ensure a solid future workforce in Western New York?
The easiest way to encourage young people to make the arts a part of their life is through the educational system. As a Member of the Assembly I would support dedicated funding to educational institutions to allow students to interact with the arts and cultural institutions.  History has shown that once students are exposed to these organizations they will want to continue their association.

Would you vote to decrease, hold steady, or increase grant funding for cultural organizations through the New York State Council on the Arts if elected, and why?
I would increase funding for cultural organizations.  It is common sense. It has also been proven that the public investment in these groups enhances the quality of life for people and spurs economic activity.

Several of the Regional Economic Development Council plans throughout the state include arts and culture as a priority or targeted industry, but the WNY plan only mentions it in the context of tourism. If elected, would you advocate for the inclusion of arts and culture in the WNY REDC plan and for a cultural representative to sit on the council, and why?
Yes.  It is again common sense.  If WE want to maximize the impact of arts and culture in our local economy then we need to make them full partners in the plan.

MONICA WALLACE, Democrat

Candidate chose not to respond to survey.

NEW YORK STATE SENATE, 60TH DISTRICT (REPUBLICAN PRIMARY)

CHRISTOPHER JACOBS, Republican

Current Occupation & Employer: Erie County Clerk

Please list your top three priorities if elected.
1. Economic Development and Job Creation

2. Funding Parity with downstate

3. Education Issue

What is the role of arts and culture in community development and revitalization?
Culture and the Arts have been and will continue to be a critical force in the revitalization of Erie County. In our efforts to draw new people to the area and keep our young, arts and culture play a pivotal role — enhancing the quality of life and lifting the community spirit.

What is the role of arts and culture in your plans for economic development in Western New York?
Supplementing existing arts and cultural institutions and encouraging development of new venues will produce a multiplier benefits for WNY.

How would you develop cultural and heritage tourism in Western New York?
I think we have major gains in this regards over the last few years. The Governor and regional development councils have recognized cultural tourism as legitimate economic force. It needs to go farther but it is a start. This does not happen overnight, it needs sustained focus, coordination and commitment from the public, private, and philanthropic sectors.

In what ways would you support young people’s access to the arts in order to foster the creative thinking skills needed to ensure a solid future workforce in Western New York? As a former school board member, I believe strongly in providing students access to the arts and culture on a regular basis. Of course, field trips are great but we must find more ways to expose them within their school environments and integrate arts and culture throughout the curricula.

Would you vote to decrease, hold steady, or increase grant funding for cultural organizations through the New York State Council on the Arts if elected, and why?
Increase.

Several of the Regional Economic Development Council plans throughout the state include arts and culture as a priority or targeted industry, but the WNY plan only mentions it in the context of tourism. If elected, would you advocate for the inclusion of arts and culture in the WNY REDC plan and for a cultural representative to sit on the council, and why?
As I mentioned earlier the regional council gave recognition and it was a good first step. Yes, I believe the arts should absolutely be included as the WNY REDC plan and a cultural representative should sit on the council.

KEVIN STOCKER, Republican

Candidate’s response when asked to fill out survey:

“I have been busy going to the homes of the voters and have not had time to fill out any surveys. As I am leading in the polls, you can count on me to support the arts and cultural programs.”

NEW YORK STATE SENATE, 60TH DISTRICT (DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY)

ALFRED COPPOLA, Democrat

Current occupation and employer: retired

Please list your top three priorities if elected.
Environmental Issues:  NYSERDA reforms to increase renewable energy production; ban microbeads; homeowner “green” incentives; low-cost power from Power Authority

Education: reform Common Core; revive quality trade schools; lower class size; more low interest student loans & incentive/scholarship programs

Government Integrity: closer monitoring of Buffalo Billion; transparency in State Authority reporting; no placement of facilities in communities without public input; strict  prosecution for campaign finance and disclosure violations; officials forfeit pension & benefits if convicted of crime

What is the role of arts and culture in community development and revitalization? 
“A&C” contribute to educational enrichment that encourages a creative environment with innovative minds that industry & businesses often seek; they help to positively define an area as desirable to live & work in, which helps to retain & grow population and investment; they inspire new businesses ventures, whether they are museums, design studios or fashion houses; they generate tourism that brings outside dollars into the community. As job growth stabilizes an area, business & public support can grow for A&C & vise versa. If development is bricks and mortar, arts and culture give it life.

What is the role of arts and culture in your plans for economic development in Western New York?
Tourism development is an obvious choice given our historic & architectural traditions, & multi-ethnic population.  Grant St. is ripe for development as ethnic shop & restaurant sector; state involvement with small business loans, housing revitalization & technical assistance for regional promotion makes sense. Support for cross-border tourism initiatives. Increase public art through public/private partnerships & build permanent site for vendors of regionally made goods as waterfront attraction with WNY benefits. Business incentives to integrate public space & art with commercial development.

How would you develop cultural and heritage tourism in Western New York? 
Work with A&C organizations to survey short, medium, long range tourism opportunities to create masterplan.  Develop local, regional, inter-state advertising via TV, radio, internet.  Targeted advertising via print media to preservation groups, etc. Promotion of cross-border tourism.  Work more closely with Niagara Falls.  Develop interest-specific multi-day inclusive tour packages (women’s, African-American, American history or architecture, crafts, etc). Establish comprehensive website of A&C sites, activities & organizations; advertise via municipal bills, bank statements, bus ads, p.s. ads

In what ways would you support young people’s access to the arts in order to foster the creative thinking skills needed to ensure a solid future workforce in Western New York? 
Require art, music, art & music appreciation courses K-12, with instruments & supplies available.  Enrichment courses in woodworking, textiles, etc. during school year & summer.  Funding for school field trips & libraries. School funding should show understanding these are not frivolous, but needed, studies. All State-funded sites & activities should have deep discounts or free student admission.  Would enjoy working with private sector to establish annual exhibit of student creative work at Convention Center, including everything from dance to robotics.

Would you vote to decrease, hold steady, or increase grant funding for cultural organizations through the New York State Council on the Arts if elected, and why? 
I would vote to increase funding.  Due to economic circumstances & politics, A&C funding has decreased over the years despite a growth in understanding that cultural funding is a good investment for economic development and revitalization, as well as quality of life.  The State can’t afford blank checks, but many smaller & newer arts organizations have been left out of funding, with monies going to the most established institutions.  Grants can help grow a newer organization, especially if it is “mentored” by a more established one.

Several of the Regional Economic Development Council plans throughout the state include arts and culture as a priority or targeted industry, but the WNY plan only mentions it in the context of tourism. If elected, would you advocate for the inclusion of arts and culture in the WNY REDC plan and for a cultural representative to sit on the council, and why? 
I’d advocate for inclusion of A&C in the WNY REDC plan & for a Council cultural representative. A&C have a significant role in economic development & revitalization. They build identity of a city or region, contribute to creative growth that attracts businesses, inspire new ventures, generate tourism & help define an area as a good place to live & work.  They contribute to stabilizing & growing population & a focus to the future.  Part of the issue is measurement.  The REDC plan should include a method of measuring the value of A&C to show A&C isn’t begging a seat at the table, but earned one.

AMBER SMALL, Democrat

Current Occupation and employer: Executive Director, Parkside Community Association

Please list your top three priorities if elected.
For our region to prosper, we must bring fresh ideas to the table. Albany is infested with corruption, and sending another career politician will do little to clean up Albany. We need a political outsider with a track record of getting things done for their community to champion ethics reform. My experience with my family’s small business has provided me the understanding needed to reduce the obstacles business owners face. I will be a fierce advocate for repairing our outdated infrastructure to ensure the safety of our neighborhoods, boost our economy and better the quality of our water.

What is the role of arts and culture in community development and revitalization?
Arts and culturals play an incredibly important role in community development and revitalization. When fostered in a community, they bring along a sense of “togetherness” and breathe new life into an area. Beyond that, they are critical components to ensuring successful economic development. Arts and culturals events in Western New York were attended by 4.1 million people in 2014 and contributed $157 million to our local economy.

What is the role of arts and culture in your plans for economic development in Western New York?
For Western New York to continue on the path towards future prosperity, we must foster the growth of a unique identity. We see this already with local businesses teaming up with our arts community to promote their products. By focusing on our regional culture, we can develop a recognizable identity that can lead to new investments in our economy. Streamlining government regulations for starting a new business is a major part of my platform, and I strongly believe that opening a path to new opportunities would be a boon to many of the unique cultures we find throughout the 60th district.

How would you develop cultural and heritage tourism in Western New York?
Cleaning up our waterways will allow for more people to enjoy our greatest natural resource, Lake Erie, which played a major part in our region’s growth, both economically and culturally. It is an embarrassment that our beaches are often closed because Albany has ignored our need for infrastructure improvements. I proposed my CleanNYWater initiative so that WNY can once again have beaches that we can enjoy without concern for our own health and that would benefit the economies of our waterfront communities such as Hamburg and Evans.

In what ways would you support young people’s access to the arts in order to foster the creative thinking skills needed to ensure a solid future workforce in Western New York?
Access to the arts is essential for developing young people’s creative thinking skills, which are critical for success later in life. I strongly believe in reducing class sizes in our schools, increasing student’s opportunities to express themselves creatively in the classroom. This has been a proven method of improving educational outcomes across the board and should be implemented locally. I will be an advocate in the Senate for ensuring that our public schools receive the funding they are entitled to in order to provide the high quality education our children are owed.

Would you vote to decrease, hold steady, or increase grant funding for cultural organizations through the New York State Council on the Arts if elected, and why?
I would vote to increase grant funding for our cultural organizations. Developing our cultural institutions here in Western New York is necessary for our economic growth. Albany will continue to fund downstate cultural organizations, so we need a Senator who will fight to bring resources here to Western New York. Through our widely recognized Olmsted parks system and rich architectural history, we already have the foundation to regain our status as a world-renowned center for arts and culturals.

Several of the Regional Economic Development Council plans throughout the state include arts and culture as a priority or targeted industry, but the WNY plan only mentions it in the context of tourism. If elected, would you advocate for the inclusion of arts and culture in the WNY REDC plan and for a cultural representative to sit on the council, and why? 
The benefits of developing Western New York’s arts and culture industry extend far beyond tourism. Our creative class has generated a burgeoning small business scene that has rejuvenated communities and created new jobs and wealth for our region. I would absolutely support this inclusion in the WNY REDC, plan as well as the addition of a cultural representative on the council.

See how your current representatives (or those who have run for that particular office) have responded to the survey in the past
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2015 Candidate Survey Responses

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2014 Candidate Survey Responses

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2013 Niagara Falls City Council Candidate Survey Responses

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2013 ASI Candidate Survey: The Arts in Our Community (as published in Artvoice)

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