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Joseph Griffo
Joe Griffo1.jpg
Member of the New York Senate
from the 47th district
Assumed office
January 1, 2007
Preceded byRaymond A. Meier
8th Oneida County Executive
In office
Preceded byRalph J. Eannace, Jr.
Succeeded byAnthony J. Picente, Jr.
39th Mayor of Rome
In office
Preceded byCarl J. Eilenberg
Succeeded byJohn J. Mazzaferro
Personal details
Born (1956-01-16) January 16, 1956 (age 63)
Rome, New York
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Lorraine Griffo
ResidenceRome, New York
Alma materState University of New York at Brockport
ProfessionElected Office

Joseph A. "Joe" Griffo (born January 16, 1956) is a member of the New York Senate, representing the 47th district since 2007.[1] The 47th district encompasses all of Lewis County, most of Oneida County, and parts of St. Lawrence County.[2] Prior to his election to the Senate, Griffo served as Mayor of Rome, New York and as Oneida County Executive. A Republican,[3] Griffo serves as Deputy Minority Leader of the State Senate.

Early life and family

Joseph Griffo was born to Joseph and Betty Griffo in Rome, New York. While he was an only child, Griffo had a large extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins. His mother was a seamstress and his father worked as a meter officer.[citation needed] Griffo went through the Rome public school system and graduated from Rome Free Academy High School in 1974.[1] He then went on to the State University of New York at Brockport, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science,[1] magna cum laude, in 1978.[citation needed]

Griffo is married to Lorraine Griffo.[1]

Political career

Oneida County Legislature: 1989-1991

Griffo served in the Oneida County Legislature from 1989 to 1991.[4]

Mayor of Rome: 1992-2003

Griffo was elected mayor of his hometown of Rome, NY in 1991,[5] and won two subsequent elections in 1995 [6] and 1999.[7]

As Mayor, Griffo eliminated Rome's special one-quarter percent sales tax.[8] Also, Griffo "was able to prevent a tax hike there (Rome) in all but one of his years in office, despite the crippling loss of Griffiss Air Force Base in 1993 - perhaps the worst single economic blow the county has ever seen."[9] Griffo merged the parks and recreation departments and handed over the city's weights and measures and emergency management departments to the county, resulting in savings. To prevent closures and service cuts, he privatized Rome Hospital, the Erie Canal Village, and city trash collection services.[10]

Griffo was instrumental in bringing Woodstock 1999 to Rome; this effort earned him the nickname "The Rock N' Roll Mayor." [9] The concert was held at the deserted Griffiss Air Force Base and served as a precedent to using the space for future concerts and events. Woodstock '99 attracted over 200,000 people. The event was largely successful until the final day, when the audience--encouraged by the performing band--began making bonfires. [11][12] As the crowd got out of control, state troopers and local police dispersed the crowd without further incident.[13]

Oneida County Executive: 2003-2006

Griffo was appointed Oneida County Executive in June 2003 to serve out the term of his predecessor. Griffo was then elected to the post in November 2003.[14] After raising taxes 16% for 2003, his predecessor had announced that taxes for 2004 might need to be raised by as much as 26% due to skyrocketing Medicare costs and retirement benefits. However, after Griffo was appointed County Executive, he was able to balance the 2004 budget while raising taxes by 2.9%.[15] In 2005, he implemented a prescription drug plan that cut drug costs for Oneida county residents by up to 38%.[16]

Griffo increased the county sales tax 1.5% in the 2005 budget to cover soaring Medicaid costs. Normally, sales tax revenues are split amongst state, county and townships/cities. However, in order to cover mandated Medicaid costs, the 1.5% increase would all go to the county government. Utica Mayor Tim Julian began claiming a share of the revenues.[17] Griffo remained adamant in refusing to split the revenues. Griffo tried to disarm the situation by offering the city of Utica $800,000 in debt forgiveness, which Julian refused.[18] Griffo eventually won out and the county did not split the extra sales tax revenues with Utica.[citation needed]

Griffo helped stop the New York Regional Interconnect (NYRI) plan to run electricity from Canada through Oneida County. Concerned citizens feared the project would increase electricity costs in the area and pose health and safety risks to residents.[19] A grassroots effort formed opposing the plan, and Griffo supported that effort with $50,000 of county money.[20] [21]

New York State Senator: 2007-present

In 2006, Griffo ran for State Senate. Utica Mayor Tim Julian ran against Griffo in the Republican primary for State Senator. While Julian lost the primary, he secured a spot on the Independence Party ticket and continued his campaign. A week before the election, Julian dropped out of the race.[22]

Griffo was elected in 2006 to represent the 47th district in the New York State Senate.[1] He replaced Raymond Meier,[23] who instead ran for Congress that year.[24] Among Griffo's significant legislation was a law that created the website where anyone could log on and see how state funds were being used.[25] Griffo also proposed bills that would create term limits for the Governor, Comptroller and Attorney-General as well as forcing vacancies at statewide positions to be filled through popular election rather than appointment by the Governor.[26] [27] "His bills have included child abuse victim protection, a law to keep snowmobile fees for trail system use and legislation capping assessment increases for farmers." [28] Griffo voted against same-sex marriage legislation on December 2, 2009; the bill was defeated.[29] In 2011, he voted against the Marriage Equality Act, which the Senate passed 33-29.[30][31]

On January 3, 2017, Griffo drew media attention for a sharp and contentious Twitter exchange with Melissa DeRosa, Chief of Staff to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo.[32][33]

In December 2018, Griffo was appointed Deputy Minority Leader of the State Senate.[34] In January 2019, he was appointed Acting Minority Leader after Minority Leader John J. Flanagan sought treatment for alcoholism.[35]

Legal difficulties

Griffo was arrested on August 1, 1988 after allegedly serving alcohol or permitting alcohol to be served to minors at a party he hosted. His case was discharged under contemplation of dismissal.[36][37][dead link][better source needed] After his arrest, Griffo accused the officer who arrested him of being 'disgruntled', despite the Rome Police having legitimate grounds for an arrest.[38][dead link][better source needed] Later the Rome Democratic Party hired attorney Robert Abrams to probe into Rome Judge James Kehoe's disposition of charges against Joseph Griffo.[38][dead link][better source needed]

Griffo was involved in a two-vehicle collision on East Oak Street in Rome. Police said the state senator caused the crash at the stop sign intersection at North James Street.[citation needed] The young female victim in the other car complained of shoulder pain, was later taken to Rome Memorial Hospital by a family member, police stated.[citation needed] The report said that Griffo "has a physical disability causing loss of vision in his right eye, which may have been a contributing factor" in the accident.[citation needed] Griffo "was determined to be at fault in regards to this collision," the report said, but he was not ticketed.[39][better source needed]


  1. ^ a b c d e, Greg. "Griffo seeking seventh term in state Senate". Uticaod.
  2. ^ "Area voters face a full ballot in Tuesday's election". Rome Daily Sentinel.
  3. ^ "Senator Joe Griffo named Deputy Minority Leader of State Senate". WKTV News.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Griffo Wins Rome Race", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 6A, 1991-11-06
  6. ^ "Griffo's Vision for Rome Receives Vote of Confidence", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 8A, 1995-11-08
  7. ^ Video on YouTube
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-15. Retrieved 2009-06-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) (accessed 6/20/09)
  9. ^ a b Cooper, Elizabeth (October 29, 2003), "Griffo seeks to restore county's vibrancy", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 1A
  10. ^ Dudajek, Dave (September 8, 2005), "Small steps can pay off big", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 13A
  11. ^ Jeff Stark (1999-07-27). "What A Riot". Salon. Archived from the original on 2007-11-07. Retrieved 2007-10-07.
  12. ^ Steven Rochlin (1999). "Woodstock 99". Retrieved 2007-10-07.
  13. ^ "Repeated Violence". The Lantern. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-09-05.
  14. ^ Staff (November 6, 2003), "We're all the losers in dirty campaigns", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 15A
  15. ^ Cooper, Elizabeth (November 5, 2003), "Griffo claims county victory", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 1A
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-11. Retrieved 2009-06-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) (accessed 6/21/09)
  17. ^ Anderson, Shawn (October 29, 2004), "Utica wants portion of funds from sales-tax hike", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 1A
  18. ^ Cooper, Elizabeth (February 5, 2005), "Griffo offers loan forgiveness", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 3A
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-06-01. Retrieved 2009-06-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) (accessed 6/22/09)
  20. ^ Anderson, Shawn (September 8, 2005), "Candidates rally around electric line opposition", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 1A
  21. ^ Cooper, Elizabeth (June 15, 2006), "County agrees to put $50,000 toward fight against power line", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 1B
  22. ^ Gamela, Renee (October 28, 2006), "Julian drops state Senate bid", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 3A
  23. ^ Warner, Greg. "Griffo, Julian face off for 47th Senate District". NCPR.
  24. ^ Donovan, Andrew (19 February 2016). "Former State Senator Ray Meier decides against 22nd congressional candidacy". LOCALSYR.
  25. ^ Staff (June 13, 2008), "Griffo bill passes in state Senate", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York
  26. ^ Staff (April 24, 2008), "Term limits in Albany worthy goal", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 7A
  27. ^ Staff (June 20, 2007), "Empowering state voters is way to go", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 7A
  28. ^ Croniser, Rebecca (October 21, 2008), "Griffo recalls challenges while serving in office", The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, New York, p. 7A
  29. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-02-11. Retrieved 2014-01-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  30. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-05-18. Retrieved 2019-04-02.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  31. ^ Marriage Equality Act and roll call]]
  32. ^ Morning, Keeler in the. "Sen. Griffo and Gov. Cuomo Staffer in Heated Twitter Spat". WIBX 950.
  33. ^ Gerould, S. Alexander. "Griffo involved in Twitter war". Uticaod.
  34. ^, Robert Harding. "Flanagan taps supporters to NY Senate GOP leadership posts, dumps Young". Auburn Citizen.
  35. ^ "North Country Sen. Griffo named acting senate minority leader - NorthCountryNow".
  36. ^ Observer-Dispatch. August 2, 1988. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  37. ^ Rome Daily Sentinel. August 1, 1988. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  38. ^ a b Rome Daily Sentinel. August 7, 1988. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  39. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-02-11. Retrieved 2017-02-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Carl J. Eilenberg
Mayor of Rome, New York
January 1, 1992 – June, 2003
Succeeded by
John J. Mazzaferro (interim)
Preceded by
Ralph J. Eannace, Jr.
Oneida County, New York Executive
June, 2003 – December 31, 2006
Succeeded by
Anthony J. Picente, Jr.
New York State Senate
Preceded by
Raymond A. Meier
New York State Senate, 47th District
January 1, 2007 – present
This page was last edited on 15 November 2019, at 19:12
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