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State Sen. Rob Ortt has been become the first western New Yorker to serve as Senate minority leader since the early 1970s. The North Tonawanda Republican, beat out both State Senators Patrick Gallivan and Andrew Lanza.
“I’m eager to unite our remarkable conference and work with Republicans from across our great state to fight for our party and our values,” Ortt said in a statement. “Hard-working taxpayers, small businesses and families from all walks of life and every region will have a fierce ally in the Senate Republican Conference.”
Ortt is a military veteran. He joined the New York Army National Guard in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2008. His professional background includes working as a personal financial analyst.
His public service career began in 2007 when he was appointed by the North Tonawanda Common Council to serve as the city treasurer. He was elected to a full four-year term later that year.
In 2008, North Tonawanda voters decided to merge the city clerk and treasurer offices. Ortt was the city’s first clerk-treasurer.
Ortt was elected mayor of North Tonawanda in 2009. He served as mayor until his election to the state Senate in 2014.
When the Niagura Falls Reporter asked Senator Ortt if he saw a divide between the interest of downstate NYC and upstate western New York the senator responded:
Ortt: They are significantly different. For example, you have the SAFE Act. Drive over all of Western New York and you will see “Repeal the SAFE Act” signs dotted over all of Western New York. I don’t believe those signs just belong to conservatives and Republicans, there’s a lot of Democrats who are hunters, that are pro-Second Amendment. It is a way of life up here whereas there seems to be a lot of support for the SAFE Act in the New York City region.
Or look at the Fair Farm Workers act. It has been blocked by the Republican Senate. This bill would bring a 40-hour work week to farms. That means family members too, anybody working on the farm. Anything beyond 40 hours would require overtime.
It would basically unionize small farms.
This district, as you know, has a lot of small, family farms. It’s a huge part of the community. Now you have a bill introduced by, clearly, someone who has never set foot on a farm. I know people who work on farms and they do not work a 40 hour week. They’re getting up before it light outside and going to bed after it’s dark outside.
I just recently met with about 20 farmers and several of them told me, if this bill passes, on that day, they will put up a for sale sign on their property. These are not corporate farms. They are small family farms.
It should be noted that since the interview the Farm legislation has become State law.
Indeed, Ortt takes over a conference that has major obstacles to overcome. Democrats now hold 40 of the 63 seats in the Senate.