Here are a couple things I bet you didn’t know about state Assemblyman Al Stirpe of Cicero:
He hails from the Wayne County village of Clyde, New York, where his family operated Albert’s Restaurant for 26 years. Al Jr. washed dishes, worked the counter and waited on tables.
He attended the University of Notre Dame where he graduated in 1975 with a degree in economics. Besides hitting the books, however, Al suited up with the Fighting Irish football team coached by the legendary Ara Parseghian. Stirpe was a gridiron specialist: a punter and place kicker.
After five terms in Albany, Stirpe is favored to win re-election next week in the 127th District, but he’s not taking anything for granted. For the past two months, the Cicero Democrat has conducted an old-fashioned door-to-door campaign six days a week.
Stirpe, who was first elected in 2006, vividly recalls the 2010 election in which Republican challenger Don Miller came out of nowhere to unseat the two-term incumbent by less than 1,000 votes.
This year Stirpe’s opponent is 27-year-old Nick Paro, a Republican from Clay who works as an aide for the Onondaga County Legislature and is making his first-ever run for public office.
Al finds the response he gets from the folks who answer their doors is generally positive.
“People around here know I’m a full-time legislator,” he said. “They know that earlier this year I helped save the North Syracuse Central School District when they were facing a $29 million fine imposed by the state. In general, they know I work hard every day, helping school districts, public libraries, BOCES libraries.”
In April, a $29.9 million state fine was levied against North Syracuse for late or missing cost reports. In August, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law that relieved the North Syracuse Central School District of the huge debt it owed the state. That bill was “championed” by Stirpe, according to NSCSD Superintendent Annette Speach.
While Stirpe is proud of his part in putting out that fire, he’s even more pumped up about promoting a new industry that he hopes will create jobs locally. A $5 million state grant that was originally targeted for a nanotech center in Salina that never got off the ground is instead being used to promote the creation of drone industry jobs in CNY and the Mohawk Valley.
Five companies in the unmanned aircraft systems industry have been awarded some $3.4 million from the fund in exchange for commitments to create 181 jobs.
Six companies, including two international firms, have committed to creating opportunities here following the state’s $30 million investment to develop America’s first-of-its-kind 50-mile flight traffic management system located between Syracuse and Griffiss International Airport in Rome.
“This rapidly growing drone industry combined with our region’s skilled workforce, have created a real opportunity for Central NY to become a world leader in this technology,” Stirpe said. He hopes to secure additional state resources for the UAS Central Job Fund to attract “companies that will create good-paying jobs in a sector that will help our region thrive into the future.”
For instance, Unifly, a Belgium-based company, partnering with the non-profit Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance (NuAir), will create some three dozen jobs as it establishes its North American headquarters in Central NY to deploy its software platform and support traffic-management testing. Unifly is one of five companies which have been awarded grants.
The 127th District includes the towns of Cicero, Clay, Manlius, Pompey and Tully. It does not include the town of Salina nor the village of Liverpool. We’re represented in the Assembly by 128th District Democrat Pamela Hunter, who hails from Syracuse.