Every Sunday, we'll publish a quick Q&A with someone from the local political world. Instead of touching on the latest in policy issues and proposed legislation, the intent is to catch a glimpse of the person behind the title. The interviews are done via email.
Michael P. Kearns
Job title: New York State Assemblymember
Family: Erin Kearns (wife) and McKenna Kearns (daughter).
Education: Canisius College, Erie Community College
Party affiliation: Democratic
What's one thing people don't know about you?
I was hired by the DEA and received the highest security clearance to serve as a Paralegal Forefeit Asset Specialist. As part of the position I was required to attend training in Quantico, Virginia and work in Rochester. In a twist of fate the federal government was shut down before training was scheduled to begin and I pursued a different path.
Who's your political hero?
I have a few political heroes, I admire: Lincoln's leadership, Kennedy's eloquence and Jimmy Griffin's tenacity.
What's the worst part of your job?
Although they are 100% behind me and supportive of my decision, leaving my family to work in Albany is the hardest part of my job.
What was the toughest thing to get used to about working in Albany?
I get paid to do what I love and that is serve in the New York State Assembly, which gives me the opportunity to make changes in people's lives. Although Albany can be challenging, for me the definition of tough is when my father chose to make his living by running into burning buildings for 30 years to help save lives. In comparison to that the challenges in Albany aren't really tough.
Did serving on the Council prepare you for your job in the Assembly?
I believe my tenure on the Buffalo Common Council gave me the ability to hit the ground running in Albany. In three months I was able to pass two bills. As former chairman of the Waterfront Committee and advocate for Buffalo's waterfront I was able to pass a bill in the Assembly, which would bring greater transparency to the process of developing Buffalo's waterfront.
As a councilmember I was the lead sponsor for licensing property managers in the City of Buffalo. I was able to take my experience regarding this issue and pass a bill that makes banks more responsible to the community and local municipalities regarding upkeep and maintence of run down properties.
As chairman of the Finance Committee, which oversaw a city budget of over $500 million, I was able to take this experience in the Common Council and contribute to a state budget that closed the state's $3.5 billion budget deficit without any new taxes, fees, or gimmicks, while increasing funding for our schools and vital health care and jobs programs.
-- Jill Terreri
Follow me on Twitter: @jillterreri