NT business owner appointed as seventh district legislator in Niagara County
By David Yarger
When people talk to local leaders and elected officials, every person has the dreams and aspirations of making their community a better place. When talking to Jesse Gooch, one can hear just how compassionate and determined he is to do so.
Gooch, creator of Painters Plus in North Tonawanda, was recently appointed as Niagara County’s seventh district legislator. The district covers majority of the Town of Wheatfield, as well as some of North Tonawanda.
The newly appointed legislator has an extensive background of work in the community from being a volunteer firefighter with St. Johnsburg Fire Co. since 2004, taking off with the “Thursdays on the Water” concert series at Gratwick Park and creating Project HOPE (Helping Others Paint Exteriors), just to name a few. In addition, Gooch began his Painters Plus company, which finds its home at 8000 Walck Road, at age 19.
Project HOPE began in 2010, as Gooch found a need to help families going through hardship whose homes exteriors might have had loose or old paint. After receiving support from the City of North Tonawanda, Gooch was given the OK to assist families in need and help brighten up homes in the community.
“It’s been nine years now and it gets bigger and bigger each year. We get more community participation every year,” Gooch said.
Of his involvement in the community, Gooch said, “There hasn’t been many opportunities that slip by us where we’re not involved in the community. When this opportunity came along, I thought this was really a way to give back to the community in a bigger way and be more of a community leader than I already am, and to be more involved than I already am.”
Gooch said he’s excited to become legislator and that everything came together so quickly. He admitted he’s been busy since the day of his appointment.
“It’s a good feeling. I’m still taking it in,” Gooch said. “I hopped right in. As soon as I got appointed, I actually sat in the office that very first day and I got assigned my committee. I’m on a couple sub-committees. … There was just a lot going on at the same time, but it feels good to be in. I’m just trying to get my feet wet and navigate my way through everything.”
With vast experience in serving the community, Gooch said he plans to take his past experiences into this new endeavor to help make his district a better place.
“I have a lot of experience dealing with different municipalities. … Just to do my day-to day operations – trying to run a concert at a public park and stuff like that – I gained a lot of experience dealing with those kind of things and circumstances. … I believe I’ve learned a lot from my business on what to do and not do. I think I can apply a lot of the lessons I learned in my business into this position and I think it’ll help me be successful,” Gooch said.
The appointment came rather quick for Gooch, and after being a business leader and community advocate majority of his life, stepping into a political field could be different to him, but he said having a say in government has always been in the back of his mind.
“I’m always trying to grow and I’m always networking. You wind up rubbing elbows with politicians, and it’s just something that you do. And they’re the people that serve your community and people look up to them as leaders,” Gooch said. “As far as me getting involved, I always thought that there could be a possibility. I’ve had lots of people say ‘Mayor Gooch,’ ‘Gov. Gooch,’ stuff like that. I’ve always had people who know me always thought I should run for something, but until this opportunity opened up, I knew that it was on the back burner. I knew it could possibly happen some day. … They say everything happens for a reason and timing is everything, so when the timing hit and the opportunity hit, I felt it was a good opportunity and time for me to jump in.
“I don’t look at myself as a politician, I look at myself as a citizen and a business person and a community person. I want to come in to this like that. I want to be interpreted that way. I’m not a career politician. I think that’s what’s going to make me a little different from the other guys. But I’m embracing it and taking it day by day.”
Gooch is coming into his role with a plan, though, as the businessman has aspirations of lowering taxes, caring for the environment, creating a better atmosphere for public safety, making life easier for business owners and, in the end, leaving the position in a better state than when he took it.”
“I really want to be able to make a difference and no matter how long I’m in here for – I plan on being in here long term and I’m gonna run this year. … My goal is to really make a difference and I want to leave it in a better position than it was when I walked into it.
“I’d like to be given an opportunity, which I am. I think we’re in good hands. I think we have really good officials in place right now and its important to keep them. I’m putting the people before politics. I really want to be the voice for the people. … I’m going to be at every community event that I can possibly go to. … I want to be a fingertip away from my constituents and I want to be able to speak with them and try to help them on any issues that they might have. I really want to be there for the people, and that’s the biggest thing. … I’m gonna do my best to do whatever I can for my constituents,” Gooch said.
To learn more about Gooch, visit his website, www.legislatorgooch.com.