By Bob Confer, 10/22/21
Readers of this fine online news source have a new weekly columnist…yours truly. Some of you might be familiar with my work. Most won’t be. Please allow me to introduce myself and the column.
For more than 16 years I’ve written an opinion column for the Greater Niagara Newspapers which are the Niagara Gazette and Lockport Union-Sun & Journal in Niagara County. That collection of dailies once included the now defunct Tonawanda News and Medina Journal-Register, which both succumbed to the demise of print media that has struck so many communities, just as it did here when the Wellsville Daily Reporter closed its office. In 2017, my columns were added to the opinion page of the Batavia Daily News when Wellsville’s own John Anderson was the editor.
Through the years I’ve tackled a variety of topics but most of my pieces have centered on public policy. I try to stay away from politics, focusing more on the things that matter. The he-said-she-said machinations of politics don’t really impact your day-to-day life, but laws, regulations, and taxes certainly do and those are the sorts of things I like to get my readers educated, engaged, and even enraged about.
You might wonder, what bent do I write from? Based on the aforementioned basis of my columns (analyzing what government does to you) you might think I’m a conservative. I’ve been called that, often. But, I’ve also been called an Americanist. More so, I’ve been labeled a libertarian. Heck, just a few weeks ago I had a reader email me to say, “I love your progressive views”, something I’ve never been told before.
No one’s really been able to peg me, which is good. I try not to work under labels and stereotypes and my columns have proven that. I’ve been equal opportunity — Republican and Democrat policies alike have been fair game.
My always-evolving worldview has been forged from a rural upbringing (I have always lived in the farmlands of Gasport in Niagara County), my career (I am the President of Confer Plastics), and my volunteerism (I am the President of the board of the Iroquois Trail Council which serves 2,000 scouts in WNY). I like to think that running a business of decent size (190 employees) and a social service non-profit affords me an in-depth exposure to issues that affect businesses and people and, in turn, the economy and society.
Over the years, that diversity of thought has allowed the column to act in impactful ways. For example, it led to a couple of massive activist campaigns which turned back two sets of onerous regulations that would have killed family farms; and it has helped local businesses understand the capitalistic and moral benefit to employing forgotten Americans like refugees and former convicts.
What? A fellow who blasts government yet sticks up for the oppressed? See what I mean about labels!
I hope that you enjoy what’s to come. You might not always agree with what I write, but sometimes you will. That mix of difference of opinion and shared beliefs is to be expected and it’s what makes news outlets like the Wellsville Sun so useful to discourse and activism in America. Otherwise, we’re left to the mercy of social media, large media conglomerates, and political parties, all of which have created a one-side-versus-the-other routine that’s really bad for this country. We can rise above that. I hope my column shows you that. I look forward to being a part of your Sun experience.
As I close this intro…some may wonder, why the Wellsville Sun? What’s my connection to Allegany County?
I love Allegany County. It’s my home away from home. Growing up, we camped many weekends on state land throughout the county. That was our vacation. Then, when I headed off to college, my family purchased some forestland in Alma and just last year I bought a cabin in that lovely community. Those of you who follow me on Twitter (@bobconfer) know how much I love the county and how I’m constantly promoting its natural beauty, public assets, people, and small businesses, all in hopes of getting outsiders to pay a visit to, and savor, what some folks call “God’s Country”.