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Hoyt-Thompson contest is an insider-outsider duel
News Staff Reporter
Sam Hoyt has been a Democratic assemblyman representing Buffalo and parts of Grand Island for the last 14 years. Tuesday, he hopes to win his eighth term, while his Republican challenger, Rus Thompson, hopes to win his first elected position.

But it's not only their political experience that sets the candidates in the 144th Assembly District apart.

Thompson, who is endorsed by the Republican and Conservative parties, said the main issues are high state taxes, unfunded state mandates and a dysfunctional State Legislature.

According to the incumbent, the key issues now include strengthening neighborhoods and the economy, creating jobs, improving education and improving public access to the waterfront.

Hoyt, who had been pushing for elimination of the the Breckenridge and Ogden tollbooths, scored a victory this week. Thruway officials eliminated the tolls Monday after decades of operation.

"Buffalo was the only area off the Mainline Thruway where you had to pay a toll," Hoyt said. "I considered it unfair and inappropriate for someone to have to pay a toll to enter the City of Buffalo. We have enough difficulties as it is. Taxing people to enter the city discouraged people from coming into the city."

Hoyt, 44, a West Side resident, also is co-chairman of the Mayor's Anti Flipping Task Force, which combats the At the city's foreclosure auction last month, the group was successful in implementing a new policy to help combat flipping - the practice of buying real estate cheaply then selling it an an inflated price without making repairs.

On the group's recommendation, people who buy property at the foreclosure auction had to first sign an affidavit that prohibits them from selling acquisitions for more than 120 percent of the bid price for at least six months.

Though he has never won an elected position, Thompson, 50, a self-employed contractor, is no stranger to the political process. He unsuccessfully sought a GOP nomination to the Erie County Legislature last year. A Grand Island resident, he ran for a seat on the Town Board in 2001 as a Conservative.

Thompson said his campaign focuses on reducing taxes, ending government waste and improving how state government works.

"The reason why taxes are so high is because of dysfunctional leadership in Albany," he said. "Municipalities have little control over their own budgets because of state mandates from Albany."

One of the worst aspects of state government is the veto override system, Thomson said. "Probably the scariest way Albany is set up is the veto majority the Legislature has. Anything the governor vetoes, they can override. So whatever they want to do, they can do," he said.

Something else that concerns Thompson is his feeling that Western New York and the rest of upstate don't get the same attention as downstate. "We have to separate upstate politics from downstate politics," he said. ". . . We have no powerhouses in Western New York, and that's bad for us."