Media and Press Coverage

Helming focuses on the positive face of government

Rochester Business Journal

By: Diana Louise Carter, April 25, 2019


Pamela Helming is known for doing her homework.

The state senator representing the 54th District- which spreads from Webster in the west past Fair Haven, Cayuga County, in the east to the town of Lansing, Tompkins County in the south- has been known to consult a tablet in the middle of a legislative debate to buttress her argument.

Victor Town Supervisor Jack Marren, who is the chairman of the Ontario County Board of Supervisors, one threatened to cut off internet access during board meetings so Helming – then the supervisor of the town of Canandaigua- couldn’t “stump the supervisor” with the contemporaneous research she was obtaining with her tablet.

Now in her third year and second term as a state senator, the Republican Helming can-without consulting her notes or staff- tell a visitor where the Waterloo Girls’ cross-country team stands in sectional, regional and state competitions. A former cross-country athlete herself, Helming took pleasure in recognizing the championship team one recent morning.

Before she ran against a Democratic incumbent for the position of Canandaigua town supervisor some years ago, the then town board member asked local political parties for time to speak with them about their concerns.

“I sent a letter to every political party involved in the town of Canandaigua,” she recalled. She was working without a tablet at that time, having lost her company-owned tablet, laptop, smart phone and car when she was laid off as an environmental compliance manager from a landfill-operating waste company. So she made a daily habit of walking four miles from her home outside the city of Canandaigua to the Wood Library downtown for the computers and printers.

The Republicans, Democratic, Independent and Conservative parties all endorsed her.

“I beat a Democrat on his own line,” said Helming with a note of pride in her voice.

Helming, who comes from the Midwest but has lived in Canandaigua for more than 35 years, first became active in public affairs after her daughter was born in 1990; becoming a mother made her focus on the future of the environment. At the time, development of Canandaigua Lake was becoming a much-discussed environmental issue, she recalled. She found a seat on the zoning board of appeals and then moved up to town board.

“I never had a plan laid out,” Heling said about her political career during an interview in her downtown Geneva district office.

As a town supervisor she worked to make town government more transparent, creating a community newsletter and putting information on the town’s website where people could see it without having to visit town hall. She pushed for a greenway plan for the town, trying to balance environmental concerns while encouraging economic development.

Similarly, she had no designs on running for state office, even after longtime state Sen. Michael Nozzolio announced he would not run for re-election in 2016.

In fact, instead of making political plans, she went on vacation with her husband, Gary, who sells snow-making equipment for ski areas. Helming wasn’t answering her cellphone, so two people who had worked with her and for the Ontario County Republican Party ended up calling Gary Helming to get Pam on the line so they could try to persuade her to run.

Both Kristine Singer and Doug Finch had been hired by Helming to work for the town. Singer, who worked in bookkeeping for Canandaigua, is town supervisor for Canadice. Finch is town manager for Canandaigua. 

“We got to see how dedicated she was to her constituents. And she took a very personal, active role in everything that was coming before her,” Singer said. “Pretty much anything that came before her, she did her homework, she dug into it and… she didn’t just pass it off to staff to do.”

Helming didn’t go for the idea at first, Singer recalled. “She thought we were nuts.”

But Singer and Finch felt she was better than anyone else running. “We know nobody can push her around,” Singer said. “She’s not easily influenced.”

Helming said recently she had a hard time thinking of herself in the same category as Nozzolio, with his Ivy League education. Nozzolio holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Cornell University and a law degree from Syracuse University.

“I’m the first person in my family to go to college,” Helming said.

“She’d be the first to say she used to be a little shy in front of a microphone,” Marren said. At an appreciation event she emceed recently, she laughed at herself for repeatedly breaking a promise to her staff that she would not hug everyone who came forward for a certificate, as well as all their family members.

Marren added that she relates to people genuinely and compassionately, which serves her well as a senator.

Away from the mic, Helming is a problem solver. She brings to bear her experiences from working in direct care right out of college, to marketing for care agencies, to working in environmental compliance for a multi-state corporation, to more than a decade in municipal government. 

“I don’t think the public realizes how much case work” is involved in government, Helming said. “I’m able to help a lot of people solve problems.”

 Marren said her experience at the town level really helps her in her newer role of state representative.

“Those are pretty big shoes to fill,” Marren said. “Not to disrespect Sen. Nozzolio. He had his ways. Supervisor Helming has filled those shoes and she’s done it in a whole different way.” 

The environment is still a key issue for Helming and played a role in her deciding to run for Nozzolio’s former seat. The district includes four Finger Lakes and the shoreline of Lake Ontario.

“I was concerned our lakes wouldn’t get the attention we need,” she said.

Singer said Helming was instrumental in getting state funding to combat algal blooms in the Finger Lakes, including Honeoye Lake. Though Canadice isn’t in the 54thdistrict, it benefitted from the legislation Helming promoted.

Helming’s was also one of the louder voices opposing the creation of a waste-fueled power plant in Romulus at the former Seneca Army Depot, a project that appears stalled now because of the passage of legislation that would prevent such an incinerator in the Finger Lakes watershed. Helming co-sponsored the legislation. 

She said she hopes Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who has supported banning the project, will visit the
Finger Lakes to sign the legislation into law.

“I encourage him to sign it here, where all the people who’ve been a part of it can see him,” Helming said. “Grassroots efforts can and do make a difference.”

On other issues, though, Helming is critical of the governor’s stances, particularly his penchant for creating policy by way of budget funding. Though the proverbial “three men in a room” making decisions for the state (the governor and legislative branch leaders) is now two men and a woman, she notes: “That excludes hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and those of us who represent them.”

A gun owner herself, Helming is opposed to the Safe Act gun control law Cuomo enacted several years ago. She also supports lowering taxes in the state.

Helming began her work as a senator by methodically doing her homework once again. In her first two years, she held 30 town hall meetings all over the district. And she introduced more legislation than any other member of her freshman Senate class, she said. “A lot of it came out of the town hall meetings.”

Like many upstate office holders, Helming feels the region does not get the attention it needs or deserves. She points to roads and bridges that fail to earn state transportation dollars for needed repairs, and the lack of sufficient broadband service in rural areas.

“There are so many areas that have sketchy service,” she said. While many people seek internet service at local libraries, Helming notes that there’s even a library in southern Cayuga County that doesn’t have reliable service.

Such issues form the backbone of the 54th District and Helming’s role in the Senate. “I’m the spokesperson for our rural communities in central New York,” Helming said. 

During her initial year in the Senate, Helming kept the office in Seneca Falls that Nozzolio, a native of Seneca Falls, had used. Then she moved it to Exchange Street in Geneva to be more centrally located, to take part in the renaissance of downtown Geneva, and to be closer to conveniences. She holds business meetings in a nearby Lyons National Bank office, she said, and larger gatherings in the new state visitor’s center on the edge of Seneca Lake, she noted.

The office also happens to be about 10 miles closer to her home. She has a satellite office in Wayne County.

These are terribly negative political times, Helming said. And in reaction, she’s become a one-woman band of positivity.

“I have made a real attempt to highlight and spotlight positive things happening in the 54thSenate District,” she said. Her schedule, when she’s in the district, is filled nearly daily with recognition events, like greeting the cross-country runners and a classmate who won a wrestling championship. She has established regular recognitions for veterans in her district, too.

At each event with youngsters, as she did with the Waterloo athletes, Helming makes sure to ask the young people if they’ve ever considered a life in government. She usually gets a negative answer, but then she tells the teenagers how such work is a job for people who like to help people.

Later on the day she met with the runners, Helming would champion not one woman of distinction for her senate district, but all 25 nominees for that title with a reception at Ventosa Winery on the east side of Seneca Lake. The event drew about 200 people, giving attention to women who quietly go about their business, as Helming said, and might not otherwise get recognized.

If there’s any doubt that women sometimes lack the recognition and status they’re due, consider this: Helming represents the senate district that includes the place where the women’s rights movement was born in 1848. And yet 168 years later, she became the first woman to hold that seat. 363-7275

Link to the article:  

Pamela Helming - State Senator, 54th District

Pamela Helming - State Senator, 54th District

Catherine Menikotz being in by Judge Craig Doran, with her husband and daughter standing beside her.

Newly-elected Canandaigua Town Supervisor Catherine Menikotz

Judge Craig J. Doran swearing in newly-elected Canandaigua Town Supervisor Catherine Walsh Menikotz in a ceremony on January 1, 2019. Her husband, Michael and daughter Jennifer stood beside her as she is taking the Oath of Office.

Senator Pam Helming being sworn in for a 2nd term in office.

Pam Helming Sworn in for 2nd Term in NYS Senate

Pamela Helming takes the oath of office after winning a second term in the NYS Senate in a ceremony held in Canandaigua, NY.  Pam is accompanied by her husband, Gary, with Judge Craig J. Doran presiding.

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor

To the Editor:   

Evaluating a candidate for office takes careful research and consideration of their qualifications. I want to speak on behalf of my late husband, Josh Shaver, and me.  

My life was shattered when Josh passed away over a year ago. I don’t know what I would have done without the caring, love and support of this community. I am sorry to read the negative comments about Kitty Karle that have been escalating as the primary draws near. Negativity is not who we are as a community.  

Trying to discredit Kitty personally and professionally draws away from evaluating the qualifications of both candidates. We need a strong individual who has been on both sides as a prosecutor and defense attorney, and who has worked with the most serious criminal cases. This is Kitty Karle.  

Josh knew and believed in Kitty, and he would want me to share this. He was very vocal about his support for her. She has been a caring figure in our lives since he passed away. She is honest, loving, empathetic and just truly cares. It shows in everything she does.  

I choose to support the clean campaign being run on her qualifications and experience. Please join me in voting for Kitty in the Sept. 13 primary.  

Mary Shaver  

Canandaigua (Daily Messenger - August 21, 2018)

To the Editor:   

Kitty Karle is running for Ontario County judge. She is the most ethical, experienced, tenacious and knowledgeable attorney I know. I know this because I have worked side by side with her for almost two decades as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney.   

While at the District Attorney's Office, I observed first-hand her remarkable trial advocacy skills, her commitment to crime victims and her leadership skills. Prosecutors in the office would often watch her trials because of her tenacity and trial skills. Her compassion and advocacy for children are second to none.

When an appellate court reviews a conviction and finds that a prosecutor made a mistake, it is called "prosecutorial misconduct." In the thousands of cases that Kitty prosecuted, on three occasions the appellate court gave her direction and admonition about her advocacy in child sexual abuse cases.   

The appellate court admonished her because she said a child had the "courage of a giant" and that a sexual predator "groomed" his victim. These statements were deemed too harsh by the appellate division and were the "prosecutorial misconduct" that her opponent is referencing. Kitty has learned from the appellate division's comments and is more prepared for the bench as a result.   

In the heat of battle, one's armor sometimes gets dinged. This is true of attorneys, especially prosecutors, who spend their professional lives advocating for crime victims. Kitty's opponent's armor has never been dinged because he has never gone to trial on a criminal or family court case. He has repeatedly admitted that he has NO TRIAL EXPERIENCE.   

Kitty, on the other hand, has conducted over 80 felony jury and bench trials, including multiple murder trials. Kitty is the only candidate qualified to be on the bench because of her vast knowledge and experience as a trial attorney. She has learned, honed her skills through trials and tribulations and become a successful trial attorney. Her opponent, on the other hand, has been sitting safely on the sidelines for two decades.   

STEFANIE BARNES, ESQ.   Canandaigua  (Finger Lakes Times - Aug 19, 2018)

Support Kitty Karle!!

Support Kitty Karle!!

Endorsement of Ontario County Candidates

Town of Canandaigua Republican Committee Endorses Ontario County Candidates

Mar 15, 2018

Sheriff :

The Town of Canandaigua Republican Committee is pleased to announce that it has voted to endorse Silvio Palermo (R) for the office of Ontario County Sheriff. The committee’s decision was based on thorough candidate interviews, and the committee expresses its gratitude to all of the candidates it interviewed. The office of Ontario County Sheriff is an elected position that carries a four year term. 

County Court:

 The Town of Canandaigua Republican Committee is pleased to announce that it has voted to endorse Kristina “Kitty” Karle (R) for the office of Ontario County Court Judge. The committee’s decision was based on thorough candidate interviews, and the committee expresses its gratitude to all of the candidates it interviewed. The office of Ontario County Court Judge is an elected position that carries a ten year term.    

The Primary Election will be held on Thursday September 13th, and the General Election will be held on Tuesday November 6th.


More Media and Press Coverage

He's in: Marc Molinaro seeking GOP nod to challenge Cuomo for NY governor


Robert Harding   

Posted Mar 3, 2018 Updated Mar 3, 2018

Nearly two months after opting not to enter the race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro told a group of GOP chairs Friday that he is running for governor.

Molinaro declared his candidacy at an event in Saratoga Springs. Republican leaders gathered there to nominate Chele Farley to challenge U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

A formal announcement hasn't been made by Molinaro's campaign, but Onondaga County Republican Chairman Tom Dadey confirmed the Dutchess County executive and former state assemblyman is in the race.

"He came into the room and announced 'I am a candidate for governor'," Dadey said in a phone interview after Friday's convention.   

With Molinaro's entry, there are now three Republicans in the field. The others are state Sen. John DeFrancisco and attorney Joe Holland.   

A straw poll was held at the GOP convention. Molinaro won with 55 votes. DeFrancisco, R-DeWitt, finished second with 23 votes. Holland received five votes.   

However, Dadey noted that several counties did not have representation at the convention. He said some of the larger counties weren't present for the convention or the straw poll.    

There are more than 450 people on the state GOP committee and there were 83 votes cast in the straw poll, which means that less 20 percent of the party's leadership cast votes.    

Molinaro's entry could shake up a race for the Republican nomination that appeared to be DeFrancisco's to lose.    

Harry Wilson, a corporate restructuring expert who pledged to spend $10 million of his own money if he ran for governor, declined to run. Days after Wilson's announcement, Molinaro said he wouldn't be a candidate for governor.    

At the time, Molinaro cited personal reasons for the decision.   

With Molinaro and Wilson out of the race, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb appeared to have the inside track to the nomination. He was securing endorsements after declaring his candidacy in December. But he abruptly dropped out the race in February.    

After Kolb's departure, DeFrancisco announced several endorsements from Republican and Conservative party leaders. But some Republicans weren't satisfied and wanted an alternative.

A "Draft Molinaro" campaign started to urge the Dutchess County Republican to reconsider his decision. He acknowledged that he was giving the race another look.   

And then came his announcement on Friday to a room of Republican leaders that he was declaring his candidacy for governor.   

The Republican convention will be held in May. That's when GOP committee members will choose a candidate for challenge Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. If a primary is necessary, it will be held in September.

Marcus Molinaro has GOP leader"s backing for governor.

Marc Molinaro - New York State Governor Candidate

Marc Molinaro - New York State Governor Candidate

Our view: Westbrook has earned your vote


Posted Nov 5, 2017 at 10:21 AM     

Even amid a contested election, there are several concepts residents of the town of Canandaigua can agree upon.

For instance, the importance of government transparency. Without an open dialogue between our elected leaders and the constituents they represent, sustainable progress is difficult to achieve, impossible to measure.

Without a predictable tax rate that balances stewardship with restraint, residents and families cannot thrive and, in turn, contribute fully toward their town's advancement.

And without proactive efforts to safeguard our natural resources - particularly Canandaigua Lake - not only would present and future livelihoods suffer, but the very magic that draws us here would be forever diminished.

These are important concepts to weigh as voters Tuesday head to the polls to elect a new town supervisor - either the current incumbent and successful businessman, Greg Westbrook, or the former longtime supervisor, public servant and affable farmer, Sam Casella.

Both men bring strong credentials to the ballot - Westbrook a strong vision for efficient, responsive government; Casella a commitment to protecting the ideals that have made his lifelong home so special.

But voters also need to ask whether the direction of their current government is pointed toward enforcing the concepts idealized earlier or toward eroding them. That the town of Canandaigua has prioritized resident engagement, with its Citizens Implementation Committee of 60-plus community volunteers; and fiscal responsibility, with a lower tax rate in 2017 and flat rate in '18; and environmental preservation, by encouraging conservation efforts and water quality projects, is proof the town is pointed toward the best future path.

And for this reason, we encourage you to elect the current supervisor, the man setting the tone for town progress - Greg Westbrook.

Both Westbrook and Casella addressed the Daily Messenger Editorial Board in advance of our endorsement, with videos of both appearances appearing on our Facebook page.

Whereas Casella spoke admiringly of past accomplishments during his two stints at the Canandaigua helm, we were most moved by Westbrook's vision and plan for Canandaigua's future - and his desire to empower residents in achieving tomorrow's successes.

Take, for instance, the town's Citizens Implementation Committee, which has been tasked with a host of wide-ranging activities, from enacting recommendations from the town comprehensive plan to preserving open space. In a day and age when organizations large and small are struggling to find volunteers, the town has more than 60 people working to make their community a better place to live, work and play. Credit to the volunteers, but town staff and elected officials - Westbrook, in particular - deserve kudos for creating an environment where people want to help, in droves.

Westbrook is focused on the future and has a realistic, regional approach to addressing potential concerns facing the town, including working to put in place agriculture protection programs and other methods of promoting economic development while maintaining the character that helps attract residents here in the first place.

The "One Canandaigua" concept of economic development, born from conversations with city officials in trying to find ways of sharing services to benefit taxpayers, brings home the reality that if the city of Canandaigua benefits from growth, the town does too, and vice versa.

Further, Westbrook has brought a businessman's approach to Town Hall, streamlining operations and introducing greater efficiencies to the operation - most visibly highlighted by his and the Town Board's hiring of a town manager who holds a master's degree in public administration, a person capable of handling not only the day-to-day affairs of town government but also long-term planning.

Voters on Tuesday will be presented two solid candidates, both of whom would be capable supervisors. We urge you, though, to select the candidate who has pointed the town in the right direction and set it upon its current path toward future successes and improvements. Vote for Greg Westbrook.

Greg Westbrook - Town of Canandaigua Supervisor

Greg Westbrook - Town of Canandaigua Supervisor

State Sen. Helming calls for state of emergency for flooded areas of Lake Ontario shoreline

By Daily Messenger news partner, News 10NBC   

Posted Apr 29, 2017 at 9:44 PM     

State Sen. Pam Helming, R-Canandaigua, called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to issue a state of emergency for areas affected by flooding while she was in Sodus Point on Saturday.

Helming additionally called on municipal leaders from the communities affected by flooding on Lake Ontario to issue a state of emergency. She also asked the state Department of Environmental Conservation for help.

Helming visited the U.S. Coast Guard Station on Wickham Boulevard in Sodus Point.

During her talk the former Canandaigua supervisor noted that some manhole covers are underwater, and said that if the water gets any higher there is a risk of overflow at the lift station. If this happens, Helming warned of a risk of raw sewage seeping into Lake Ontario.

Helming also was expected to visit businesses and homes along the lake shoreline that have had to contend with “unprecedented flooding.”

Pam Helming - NYS Senator 54th District

Pam Helming - NYS Senator 54th District