A look at Mario Cuomo’s impact in western New York

Cuomo with Bisons owner Bob Rich and the late Mayor Griffin at the ground breaking of Pilot Field in 1986

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — During his three terms as Governor of New York, Mario Cuomo, spent a lot of time in Western New York.

Cuomo worked with then Buffalo Mayor Jimmy Griffin to build Pilot Field in 1988.  The state paid for nearly half of the $42 million put up for the construction of the baseball field that is now known as CocaCola Field.

Former Erie County Democratic Chairman Len Lenihan said, “He was a fierce fighter for the things he believed in and he did a lot for Buffalo when he was in office.”

Lenihan said Cuomo was also instrumental in getting funding for the NFTA and the light rail transit system in Western New York.

Current Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy Zellner said, “One of the reasons he won his first election was that he was an advocate for Western New York and his opponent in the primary wasn’t.”

Cuomo had a big influence in Zellner’s career in politics.

“I’m from the City of Tonawanda and I remember he came to our Canal Fest, our biggest festival of the year, back when he was governor in 1984 or 1985 and it was like seeing the president, he was just such an impressive figure and what he fought for then are things that I fight for now and so does our party,” he said.

Mario Cuomo died 32 years to the day he took his first oath of office as governor of New York. His death also came less than two hours after his son, Andrew Cuomo, delivered his Inaugural Address at the Buffalo History Museum.

Lenihan said, “Mario Cuomo had three terms and his son was sworn in to his second term and how poignant that on the night that he passed on, his son is continuing his legacy.”

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown released this statement about Mario Cuomo’s passing:

”Mario Cuomo was a strong, eloquent communicator – a symbol of New York – who leaves behind a legacy to all that, through hard work and education, anything is possible.  I was privileged to know this extraordinary leader and experienced first-hand on many occasions the influence he had on the state and the people he loved. He was always generous with his time and wise counsel – something I appreciated greatly when he traveled to Buffalo to support my first campaign for Mayor of the City of Buffalo in 2006. He spoke to me and many other officials about his vision for a more compassionate and just society.   He often spoke about ‘the family of New York’ to emphasize that we should see ourselves as one people, stronger because of our diversity. Mario Cuomo touched the lives of so many with his tireless pursuit for a more inclusive society and made our state a better place for all people.Today my continued thoughts and prayers are with the Cuomo family.  From his political success to his unending generosity and invaluable leadership, Mario Cuomo’s impact and contributions will be felt for generations to come.”

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