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Jacobs enters race for NY Senate 60th District, Ryan undecided

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Chris Jacobs, the Erie County Clerk and former Buffalo School Board member, is now officially a candidate for the New York State Senate seat that will be soon given up by its current holder.

Jacobs launched his bid for the 60th District in a Friday morning news conference hosted inside a Main Street property he owns. Jacobs, before making the announcement, opened with his remarks about his purchase and redevelopment of downtown properties, a fund he created in the 1990s to assist low-income children gain access to better schools and his work with the Buffalo School Board.

"I want to take that passion for this area and my experience that I've garnered in the private sector, the non-profit sector and the public sector, to be your next New York State Senator," he said. 

Jacobs is running as a Republican, looking to replace Democrat and current Senator Marc Panepinto, who announced his decision not to seek re-election earlier this week. While Jacobs' entry into the race comes shortly after that surprise development, local Republican leadership has considered Jacobs an ideal candidate for many months.

"Chris has professionalized everything he's ever been involved in," said Nick Langworthy, chairman of the Erie County Republican Committee. "I believe he'll be an outstanding Senator. He'll be an outstanding candidate for the New York State Senate.

"And this is a critical seat, as the balance of power in the New York State Senate could hinge directly on this seat. I believe Chris Jacobs is the best possible candidate we could be running right now to bring the seat back into the majority."

On the Democratic side, community activist Amber Small has announced her candidacy for the seat. Small is executive director of the Parkside Community Association.

Speaking to WBFO, Small spoke of the need to improve ethics in state government.

"We've created this culture of accepted irresponsibility," she said. "So often we see that our legislators, our elected officials, are not even held up to the standards that we would expect our neighbors to be held up to. We really deserve better."

Meanwhile, Small's campaign was quick to criticize Jacobs, issuing this written statement: "The very last think the working families of Erie County need is another candidate for office who embraces the extreme, divisive, anti-woman agenda espoused by Carl Paladino and Donald Trump."

Also pondering a possible run for the seat is Assemblyman Sean Ryan, who said Friday he's not going to rush a decision.

"It's not a snap decision," said Ryan about a possible run. "You have to speak with leaders from every town and city who are in this district. Democracy is a ground-up process, not a top-down."

Ryan, who told reporters that he likes the Assembly, said he also needs to determine whether he would yield the same benefits for his constituents as he does in his current seat. His primary focus now until the end of the month, he said, is passing the state's budget which is due April 1. 

WBFO's Avery Schneider  and Robert Creenan contributed to this report.

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