Bill Nojay, the former chairman of the Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority, plans to announce tomorrow he’s running for the state Assembly in the Rochester area—a seat being vacated by Assemblyman Sean Hanna, R-Mendon, Monroe County, who is running for state Senate.
It’s an interesting return to politics for Nojay, who had dabbled in runs for Congress over the past decade. He’s currently a conservative radio show host on eight stations through the Finger Lakes and the Southern Tier. And he was also recently tapped as chief operating officer of Detroit’s public bus system.
Nojay, 55, of Pittsford, Monroe County, will seek the GOP nomination in the three counties where the Assembly seat is located: Monroe, Livingston and Steuben. Richard Burke, the former mayor of Avon, Livingston County, is also seeking the Republican nod.
“We’ll be announcing tomorrow. I’m looking forward to both the primary and the general election,” Nojay said this morning.
Nojay has been a controversial figure at times. A close ally to former Monroe County Executive Jack Doyle, Nojay appeared in ads as RGRTA chairman in the early 2000s that touted a new bus terminal for downtown Rochester. The ads drew criticism that he was using the platform to boost him profile to run against Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, whom he has been highly critical of over the years.
But Nojay said his foray into electoral politics is aimed at what he sees is a slight against upstate by the state’s New York City-area leaders.
“I think the economy of upstate New York is at a tipping point,” he said. “It’s been a long-term, downward spiral because policies driven out of New York City have pretty much destroyed our manufacturing industry, and they are severely restricting the ability of upstate companies to expand. They’re moving out of state, rather than expanding in upstate New York.”
Nojay said agriculture and hydrofracking need to be a focal point for the upstate economy.
“I was hopeful that Governor Cuomo would take the steps necessary to reverse the decline, but so far it hasn’t happened,” Nojay charged. “So you need a strong voice for upstate in the Assembly chamber.”
As for hydrofracking, Nojay said, “I think we need to find a way to do hydrofracking in a way that is safe and protects the environment, but that allows the drilling to occur.”