LAKEWOOD - Rudy Mueller wants to entice business to Chautauqua County. Being elected to the state Assembly, he said, is the first step to getting that done.
Mueller, a Lakewood Democrat and former county legislator, outlined his plan to attract new business to the area. He noted several shovel-ready sites in the county, as well as two educational institutions and the one-of-a-kind Chautauqua Institution.
"I would promote the county and send a positive message," Mueller said. "It's a great place to live and raise a family; it's a beautiful part of the country."
The Democrat is challenging incumbent state Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Chautauqua County, for the 150th District seat.
Both candidates squared off for a debate Monday at the Prendergast Library, co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Chautauqua County and the Jamestown chapter of the American Association of University Women.
Mueller said utilizing tax breaks and payments in lieu of tax programs through the county Industrial Development Agency is one way to draw in local business. He noted industrial parks in Sheridan and Busti, and other shovel-ready sites.
"We need to be proactive," he said. "We have the tax cap set and so far (County Executive Greg) Edwards has been able to come under it.
"It will keep taxes low, and eventually those taxes will be coming down."
Protecting assets in the county, such as Chautauqua Lake and its draw on tourism, also is important.
"I think the lake will need to be dredged," Mueller said of the lake's current weed problem. "Those would all be local jobs. And it's a long-term investment. It would come right back to the community."
As for the north county, having a Democrat in the left-leaning state Assembly would help pass legislation - most notably when it comes to saving the coal-fueled Dunkirk NRG power plant.
"You need a Democrat in there to get that legislation through," Mueller said, noting efforts by state Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean, to re-brand NRG as a clean-energy plant.
The PowerUpWNY petition drive, which would add a reported 500 jobs and attract business to the region, has received support from Goodell and the county executive.
"Without a doubt, this is the most important petition that people in Dunkirk and all of Chautauqua County can sign this year," Edwards said in a recent news release.
"This will have the biggest impact of any potential project in the area and would be the largest construction project ever in the history of the county. I urge anyone who cares about the local economy to sign this petition and share it with their family, friends and co-workers."
Mueller, meanwhile, said bringing in new industry starts with promoting a positive image.
"We need to promote this county. We need to be positive," he said.