By JAIME STUDD
Recorder News Staff
JOHNSTOWN -- Joseph Chilelli, a former Herkimer County legislator and candidate for the 118th Assembly district, was in Fulton County Thursday night to introduce himself to local residents.
No one showed up to meet the challenger for incumbent Marc Butler, R-Newport.
The poor showing didn't seem to bother Chilelli, though, as he sat alone in a small conference room in the basement of the Johnstown Public Library.
Chilelli said he had scheduled a number of similar appearances throughout the five counties in the newly created district, some with similar results, but that he would continue to do so.
"I'm trying to get out any way I can," Chilelli said, adding that he had spent Thursday afternoon walking door to door throughout the city.
Fulton County Democratic Committee Chairman Edmund C. Jasewicz did not return a phone call Thursday seeking comment on the poor turnout.
Chilelli said he entered the race because he believes the people in the region are not being adequately represented in Albany.
"You have a choice this election and the choice is between better representation and the status quo," Chilelli said.
Chilelli urged voters in the district to contact him directly, either by email or phone. It's a practice he believes is integral to the position, adding that he is eager to hear from the residents themselves about the issues most important to them.
"I'll give you my personal opinion and I'll tell you exactly where I stand," Chilelli said. "I'm not running to be a politician. I'm running to be a representative for the citizens of this district."
Though officially registered as a Democrat, Chilelli balked at being identified as a member of any one political party.
"Most of the time, the question I get is: 'what political party are you with?' I don't make that an issue," Chilelli said. "That's not important to me.
"Just because I'm a Democrat, doesn't mean that I'm a Democrat 100 percent. I have a lot of Republican ideals," he added. "Let's take the politics out of it. To me, it's just a matter of getting the right people in the right room and creating an open dialogue."
Recognizing the county's staggering unemployment rate as chief amongst the issues to be addressed, Chilelli said he believed not enough is being done to fuel economic development and draw prospective business into the area.
"You've got to put together a plan for where you want to be in the future," Chilelli said. "We're not marketing this area. We're not packaging the positive attributes that we have here in order to get the word out."
"There's a lot of different ways to tackle a problem and the problems we have here are all resolvable," he added. "There's so much more opportunity here than people really realize."