Yet Another Union Member ‘Making A Commitment To Making Things Better - For All’ - United University Professions’ Monica Wallace Campaigning To Win The 143rd Buffalo-Area NYS Assembly Primary Election
A Regular Seen Walking Picket Lines In Support Of Unionized Workers, Lessons Learned From Teamster Grandfather Helped Mold Wallace Over The Years – She Values The ‘Voice’ Organized Labor Provides To Workers & Abhors Those Who ‘Use’ Public Office
(LANCASTER, NEW YORK) – Much has been written on the elected officials who once represented the Western New York Towns of Cheektowaga and Lancaster, and the Villages of Lancaster, Depew and Sloan, as New York State’s 143rd New York State Assembly representative. While the sordid story of scandal, sexual harassment, abuse of power and overall constituency disappointment is a well-known one here in Western New York, Labor-endorsed Candidate Monica Wallace is aiming to change that after making the decision to get into the race in order to make things better for those who live, work and raise their families across the district.
The United University Professions (UUP) Union Member, an attorney who now teaches at the State University at New York (SUNY) Buffalo Law School, is the latest in long line of Union Members and Activists across Western New York who’ve made a decision to run for public office over the past several years.
Wallace (Pictured Below/WNYLaborToday.com Photo) is facing off against an opponent in the September 13th Democratic Primary who also carries with her a tarnished past, one that Wallace hopes will have voters focusing more on reform than voting for an individual who could bring more unneeded baggage to a seat that has already endured enough shame.
“I am an ‘outsider’ to the process,” Lancaster resident Wallace told WNYLaborToday.com during a recent sit-down interview. “I worked in the Federal Court System where you had to ‘serve with the highest integrity.’ There’s been ‘a lot of frustration’ (from the district’s constituency) with the ‘incompetency’ of those who’ve served the district. The question was: ‘Why aren’t there better people running?’ So, I thought, there were ‘two’ choices: ‘Do nothing’ or ‘run as someone who will bring about change.’”
Organized Labor is squarely behind Wallace with the Democratic candidate receiving a number of area endorsements, including backing from the Western New York AFL-CIO Area Labor Federation (WNYALF) and the New York State AFL-CIO, the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), the Communications Workers of America (CWA), Ironworkers Local 6, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the International Union of Painters & Allied Trades (IUPAT)District Council 4, the Public Employees Federation (PEF), the Teamsters, and the UUP-affiliated New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) Union.
UUP President Fred Kowal, whose Statewide Union represents more than 35,000 Academic and Professional Faculty on 29 SUNY Campuses - in addition to System Administration and Empire State College, said in a telephone interview with WNYLaborToday.com from Albany that Wallace is "incredibly well qualified."
"I've gotten to know her and she is 'brilliant,'" Kowal said. "It's a 'proud moment' for (UUP) to have 'one of our own' (running for the State Assembly). She has a 'long and distinguished career' in the judiciary and she's an 'outstanding' Faculty Member. And she really 'exemplifies' what UUP 'is all about.' Our Members 'work for the public good.' It's 'all about public service' and Monica is 'committed' to public service. She told me she would 'only run' (for public office) is she could 'make a difference.' UUP is always looking for 'allies' to push forward our agenda, which is a 'New York State agenda.' She'll be a 'fantastic' (Assemblywoman)."
WNYALF President Richard Lipsitz said in a WNYLaborToday.com interview: “I’ve gotten to know her through her UUP connection. She’s ‘very smart.’ She asked us for ‘our advice’ – she wanted to know what the ‘entire’ Labor Movement ‘was all about.’ She’s a ‘quality person’ and I ‘mean’ that. She’s 'knows about' Labor Unions and Worker issues and we believe she’ll ‘make good’ on ‘putting an end’ to the problems that have occurred with those who’ve been elected in the past to that seat.”
NYSUT Regional Staff Director Mike Deely tells Your On-Line Labor Newspaper that Wallace is ‘special.” “We’re talking about her being a ‘quality’ human being. I feel the woman has the ‘ability to serve’ in ‘higher office.’ She’s ‘unique’ and I believe, ‘top shelf.’ This job is ‘not for the weak’ - she’s a ‘gamer.’”
Wallace told WNYLaborToday.com that she was the first person in her family to attend college, and that she “understands the importance” of education and the value of hard work. She received her law degree from SUNY Buffalo Law School and her bachelor’s degree from SUNY Binghamton, where she graduated with high honors. The married mother of two is active in the legal community and has served on several community boards, including the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York, the Lancaster YMCA and Neighborhood Legal Services.
Wallace (Pictured below, speaking to NYSUT’s Deely on a recent picket line and standing with CWA Members during the Verizon Strike) has also been endorsed by the Working Families Party. She could be seen at numerous rallies and pickets over the summer involving the CWA and NYSUT. She says she did so because she herself knows the worth of having a voice in the workplace as a UUP Member and for her love and dedication to education for all children.
“My grandfather was a Teamster, as was his father,” said Wallace, who was raised by a single mother. “He was ‘old school’ Italian. He worked ‘very hard’ and I remember him doing things himself, like building a shed in his backyard – laying the foundation, putting up the walls, adding a window and putting on a roof. I learned ‘resiliency’ from him. He had it ‘tough’ growing up. He was in an orphanage and after he got married to my grandmother, a fire burned their house down. They ‘lost everything’ and they had to ‘start all over again.’ I grew up in a family that went to the mailbox, waiting for a child support check that ‘didn’t come.’ We qualified for ‘free lunch’ (growing up), but I went to work and worked my way through college and law school. I was the first in my family to go to college. That’s why I ‘believe’ education is ‘essential’.”
“What ‘impresses me’ about Labor is the ‘voice’ NYSUT brings to the table ‘on behalf’ of public education so ‘important issues can be discussed on a level that wouldn’t be heard (without it),’” she continued. “And it’s ‘important to show solidarity,’ that you ‘stand with’ your fellow Union Members and ‘support’ them. I think it’s ‘important’ for a public official to ‘speak out on behalf’ of Labor – ‘amplify the call’ to bargain fairly.”
Wallace tells WNYLaborToday.com she’s running on a three-point platform: Ethics Reform; Better Education Opportunities and Funding; and Investing in Western New York’s crumbling Infrastructure, as well as holding those in power accountable when public funding is given to entities that receive tax breaks in return for promising job creation.
While running to “restore integrity” and be a strong, ethical voice for our community, Wallace says that – if elected, she pledges to hold herself to the highest professional standards. She believes the district needs a leader who understands complex issues of law and policy and appreciates how decisions made in Albany impact Working People every day.
With a victory in next week’s primary, Wallace will inch closer to making her goal a reality for not only the residents and taxpayers of the 143rd Assembly District, but for Working People and their families.