Former Senator Alfred T. Coppola is a widely respected elder statesman of local politics, and is leading freshman Senator Marc Panepinto in Democratic Party primary polling that puts him ahead by a 2-to-1 margin. Influential figures in the Democratic Party want Coppola to have an uncontested primary, but Panepinto is refusing to exit gracefully.
Panepinto is a deeply flawed candidate who was convicted of election fraud. In his first year in the Senate, he caused an ethics uproar after lobbying for changes to insurance law that would have benefited his personal business activities. Simultaneously, law firms who have argued cases before his wife, State Supreme Court Justice Catherine Panepinto, have also donated to his campaign account.
Polling indicates that the incumbent Senator will be defeated badly by both of his potential Republican opponents: the Kenmore attorney Kevin Stocker; and County Clerk Chris Jacobs.
That has influential Democrats pulling Senator Coppola out of retirement, in their attempt to retain a swing district in a year when the party hopes to regain a majority in the chamber. A source says that Democratic Headquarters is strategizing how to convince Panepinto to gracefully exit.
Coppola is a lifelong Buffalo resident and former businessman who represented Buffalo’s Delaware District on the Common Council for over 17 years, before serving the region as a pioneering State Senator in Albany, where he championed a public takeover of Niagara Mohawk that would have cut energy prices by nearly 80%.
Coppola has a no-nonsense reputation, built on strong results-oriented constituent service, bold stands on alternative energy, visionary environmental proposals, and an intense scrutiny of the budget, government contracts, and public integrity.
When the Buffalo Common Council voted for their $10,000 pay raise, Al Copploa refused to accept it. He was a vocal opponent of the garbage tax, and lead the push for Buffalo’s recycling program. He spearheaded the Council’s Medical Waste Task Force, resulting in safe disposal of hazardous waste.
Coppola is perhaps best known as one of the city’s leading preservationists. He oversaw the rehabilitation of Delaware Park’s Marcy Casino, and personally saved the 1901 Pan Am House on Delaware Avenue out of his own pocket.
He blew the whistle on Parks Department fraud, pushed sweeping proposals for waterfront access, and sponsored a bill to eliminate tolls at the Grand Island bridges.
Coppola is a reliable vote for issues important to working families, but is an independent minded Democrat, as evidenced by his support of second amendment rights and opposition to the NYSAFE Act.
Coppola supported expansions of Epic coverage and health benefits for working families; extension of the Earned Income Tax Credit; a state aid increase to public schools; legislation increasing penalties for crimes against children; and passage of the Pesticide 48 Hour Notification Bill. He also secured $45 million to settle the 8 year long lawsuit between the Buffalo Board of Education and the Buffalo Teacher’s Federation.
After retiring from the State Senate, Coppola founded the Energy Cooperative of America, and continues to sit on its board.