The Rotary Club of Jamestown heard from Andrew Goodell, Republican candidate for the state Assembly, during a recent meeting.
Goodell graduated from Maple Grove High School, received his undergraduate degrees in political economics and mathematics from Williams College, and graduated from Cornell Law School. After working in a private law firm in Washington, he returned to Chautauqua County and worked as a county attorney. He was county executive from 1990 to 1997. Goodell returned to private practice in 1998, focusing on business and commercial law. In 2010, he was elected to the state Assembly, where he is the ranking member of the Social Services Committee and a member of the Health Committee, Government Operations Committee, and Alcohol and Substance Abuse Committee. In 2011, Goodell was named to the Farm Bureau Circle of Friends. This year, he has been endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Business, Associated Builders and Contractors and Unshackle Upstate New York. He has also received a positive ranking from the New York State Business Council. Goodell is an active member of Rotary, where he is a past president and three-time Paul Harris Fellow. He has also served as a board member for Bemus Bay Pops, Chautauqua Leadership Network, Girl Scouts of Southwestern New York, CODE, and State University at Fredonia Business and Accounting Advisory Board. He is the head usher at First Covenant Church.
Goodell began his presentation with a few humorous stories about his first days in Albany. Goodell said there is a tremendous need for New York state to become more business competitive, which would solve many of its problems. The state was recently ranked 46th out of 50 for the worst tax climate. Among the things he has been working on are spending cuts and an on-time budget, which has been achieved for the last two years. He is working to stop legislation that would kill jobs and stopping bad bills with nice names such as the Fair Wage Act and Fair Elections Act. When actually read and explained, he said the bills do not live up to their very nice names. There are conditions within them that would be harmful to the state. He is also concerned with the cost of health care and the mandates that are added to proposed bills. Adding mandates adds cost, Goodell said. Goodell said the state needs to phase out health care taxes. He also spoke about the need for welfare reform because New York has the second-highest benefits and spent the most structurally.
From left are Assemblyman Andrew Goodell; Mark Olson, Rotary program committee; and William Tucker, Rotary Club of Jamestown president.
Goodell said when he receives a bill for consideration he first reads it, then he recognizes the positive aspects of the proposal and then he applies economic principals. Many times something that seems sound has unrecognized side effects that may be detrimental or even damaging to the bill. He gave the example of no realty sales without a water well check. Although it sounds like a reasonable and sound proposal, the bill is often impossible to accomplish and can prevent the completion of the sale. During the question and answer period, Goodell was asked about separating Upstate New York from New York City. He said the state and the city have different perspectives on relationships with businesses. But the Assembly has been able to keep New York City rules in New York City and out of the rest of the state. On the issue of hydraulic fracking, Goodell said he did not support a statutory moratorium but does support a practical moratorium by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Goodell also discussed the NRG power plant in Dunkirk. The plant provides 42 percent of Dunkirk's revenues and 30 percent of the Dunkirk City School District's budget. NRG is willing to make a $700 million investment to turn the existing facility into a natural gas facility. Goodell encourages area residents to sign an online petition that will be presented to state officials.
When asked about random drug testing for welfare recipients, Goodell said that he supports drug testing. Being drug-free is part of being job ready, Goodell said, and welfare recipients shouldn't be spending welfare money on drugs.