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Monroe County GOP fields first candidate of 2020, talks future

Jan 3, 2020

From Monroe County Republican party headquarters.
Credit James Brown / WXXI

At a rally Friday announcing the first Republican candidate for office in Monroe County this year -- Elena Cariola for Surrogate’s Court judge -- the chairman of the county Conservative Party took the stage to show his support.

“It’s going be a tough race," said Tom Cook. "There are 60,000 more Democrats in Monroe County than Republicans. It’s going to be a tough race, but I think she can win.”

Cariola is hoping to replace Judge John Owens, who is reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70. The Chili resident has a long background in probate court, handling real estate and property disputes, which is what the court deals with. 

“I can honestly say for the last 15 years, I have appeared in Monroe County Surrogate’s Court almost every week,” said Cariola. “I have extensive knowledge in Surrogate Court practice because of that experience.”

She was appointed deputy public administrator of Monroe County in 2011 by now-retired Surrogate's Court Judge Edmund A. Calvaruso. Public administrators manage the assets of estates for people who die without a will. 

Her father, Frank Iacovangelo, has been the county's public administrator since 2000. Both he and Cariola are partners in the firm, Gallo and Iacovangelo, where Cariola specializes in estate law.

Surrogate's Court judge terms are 10 years. Monroe County Democratic Committee Chair Brittaney Wells said Judge Christopher Ciaccio is also seeking the position.

Elena Cariola announces her run for Monroe County Surrogate's court.
Credit James Brown / WXXI

GOP Chair Bill Napier is hoping for more than just a win from Cariola. He’s hoping that the party's future looks more like the candidate, who is a 43-year-old mother of two. They’re also hoping to make inroads in the black and Hispanic communities.

“We need to do better outreach with women and minorities, both from the perspective of adding them to our ranks of the Republican electorate and also to have them and field them as candidates going forward,” said Napier.

Napier said that the demographics of the region are changing, and that traditional conservative-leaning voters are among those leaving the area. He said the goal is to relate to voters on issues like the opioid crisis and public safety instead of traditional Republican calling cards like tax rates.