William L. Ross has announced his candidacy for re-election to the Niagara County Legislature. Ross is the endorsed Republican, Conservative and Independence parties candidate for the 2nd Legislative District, which includes the west end of the Town of Wheatfield and a major portion of the Town of Lewiston, including the Village of Lewiston. Ross is chairman of the Niagara County Legislature.
Ross attended Niagara Falls public schools and graduated from LaSalle High School. He was awarded a football scholarship to Michigan State University, where he became a three-year letterman and played on a National Championship team in 1952, a Big Ten championship team in 1953, and a Rose Bowl-winning team in 1954. Ross graduated in 1955 and went into military service as an ROTC-commissioned officer.
He returned to Niagara County after his honorable discharge from active duty and was hired by the new Niagara-Wheatfield School District. He remained on as a teacher, coach and administrator for the next 47 years. He retired from the Niagara-Wheatfield School District in 2003.
Ross stated that his 2013 re-election campaign will emphasize his experience as a local appointed and elected government official; his record of achievement as a local elected official; his total involvement in the Niagara community in civic and service organizations; and his service to his country in active duty and active reserve status for 28 years.
Ross was appointed to local, town and county boards, committees and a commission for 12 years before he ran for elected local government positions. He became a member of a local volunteer fire company for almost five years and, during this time period, he became familiar with the duties and responsibilities of a volunteer fireman. Ross went on to serve for 28 years in local elected government as a town councilman and a county legislator (he has a grand total of 40 years of local government experience).
Ross's record of achievement over the past 10 years in county legislative leadership positions reflects doing more with less, he said. Ross became chairman of the Legislature in 2004. At that time, there were 1,600 full-time Niagara County employees. Today, there are 1,360 county employees. The reduction is the result of divesting of service that should have been in the private sector, he said. It was made possible by the consolidation of services with county departments and the merging of department head duties and responsibilities.
Ross also strongly supported the elimination of lifetime health care coverage for legislators in 2004 by resolution, and the elimination of non-participating legislators' eligibility for a stipend in lieu of coverage, which was passed and is in effect.
Ross was a leading local government leader in the retention of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Base in 2005. He collaborated and coordinated with state and congressional leaders in avoiding the BRAC and has been a member of the Niagara Military Affairs Council for 17 years. He is currently on the NIMAC board of directors. The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is the No. 1 employer and the No. 1 payroll in Niagara County.
Ross, in 2005, as chairman of Niagara Power Coalition, signed the 50-year agreement with the New York Power Authority, which has provided and will continue to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in Greenway money and megawatts of energy to seven Niagara County entities physically impacted by the Niagara Power Project. Ross was recently elected to his 10th term as NPC chairman.
"The 10-year period (2004-13) highlighted fiscal stability in Niagara County Government with an average county tax levy of 1.2 percent per year. It has been 10 years of smaller government, less spending, and a control of the county property tax," Ross said.
Ross is the chairman of the Niagara County Brownfields Development Corp., which lends or grants money to projects aimed at reusing old industrial sites. There have been five successful projects that have reclaimed sites that can be used for economic development.
Ross was proud to co-sponsor the resolution that reduced that Niagara County Legislature from 19 members to 15 in 2009. The reduction went into effect on Jan. 1, 2012, with new redistricting lines drawn up by a bipartisan redistricting commission.
"A very important resolution was passed unanimously in 2013 by the Niagara County Legislature requesting the New York State Legislature to repeal the Safe Act," Ross said. "The Safe Act was a direct violation of the Second Amendment and impacted the rights of all law-abiding gun owners. As the chairman of the Niagara County Legislature, I am against any law that violates the Constitution."
Ross said he believes in total involvement in community events and organizations. He belongs to many civic, professional and service organizations. He is past president of Niagara County Rotary Club, Wheatfield Lions Club, Mount St. Mary's board of associates, Leadership Niagara, Reserve Officers Association, New York State Association of Counties and the New York State Athletic Administrators Association. Ross is also a Niagara County Community College trustee, s position he has held for the past eight years. He is a strong advocate for NCCC, which provides county residents with a post high school education at a lower tuition rate.
Ross is a retired Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army Reserve with 28 years of active and active reserve service. He is a graduate of Fort Leavenworth's Command and General Staff school and, during his military career, held positions of company commander, battalion and brigade staff officer.
Ross resides on Walmore Road in the town of Wheatfield with his wife, Linda. They are the proud parents of five grown children and nine grandchildren.