Rep. Tom Reed

Rep. Tom Reed

SALAMANCA — A non-partisan group is piggybacking on a town hall meeting Saturday in Salamanca by Rep. Tom Reed, inviting the 10 candidates vying to run against him next year to a meet and greet afterward.

Citizens For a Better Southern Tier has asked all 11 candidates to participate in a meet and greet at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Salamanca Municipal Building, according to a Facebook post by the group.

Presumably, the invitation was extended to Reed, who is scheduled to be at the Municipal Building from 2 to 3 p.m. There was no immediate word whether the congressman was planning to stay, but his recent actions make that seem unlikely. Reed branded group members “extreme arrogant liberals” on social media as they demonstrated outside his Corning office last week, protesting the Republican tax plan.

In a weekend Facebook post, the group advised those planning “to attend Reed’s town hall itself please bring civil protest signs focusing on how unfair the proposed tax bill is.”

Citizens for a Better Southern Tier has invited the nine Democrats jockeying for position in the crowded field looking to run against the three-term Reed next year. Independent candidate Brian Clasby has also been invited.

The Democratic candidates invited to attend the meet and greet include: Linda Andrei, Max Della Pia, Rick Gallant, Ian Golden, John Hertzler, Tracy Mitrano, Eddie Sundquist, Karl Warrington and Charles Whalen.

Cattaraugus County Democratic Party Chairman Frank Puglisi said that while the Democratic chairman of the 23rd Congressional District were not sponsoring the meet and greet, he supported it.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for people to meet and hear from the candidates,” Puglisi said.

However, with a less than a year to go before the election and just over six months before the June Democratic primary in the 23rd Congressional District, Puglisi said it’s time to start narrowing the field of Reed challengers.

“There are three frontrunners in this race people should be looking at, Eddie Sundquist, Ian Golden and Tracy Mitrano,” Puglisi said.

Ten candidates can be distracting to voters and hinder serious fundraising that will be needed to first challenge other Democrats in a June primary, Puglisi said.

The last time most Democratic primary candidates were in Cattaraugus County at the same time was Oct. 21, when they participated in a straw poll.

Golden, an Ithaca businessman narrowly won the straw poll, trailed by Sundquist, a Jamestown attorney, and Mitrano, a university administrator from Tioga County.

Puglisi, who said he plans to attend the Reed town hall prior to the meet and greet sponsored by Citizens For a Better Southern Tier, said residents are going to want to question on his support for the GOP tax plan.

“I think this tax bill is going to hurt the hard-working middle class and help millionaires, billionaires and big corporations,” Puglisi said.

The 23rd Congressional District includes all of Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany, Steuben, Yates, Schuyler, Seneca, Tompkins and Chemung counties and parts of Ontario and Tioga counties.

Citizens for a Better Southern Tier “is a non-partisan grassroots organization that provides a voice for constituents of the 23rd Congressional District.”

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)