Unshackle Upstate taps Rochesterian as new leader

Unshackle Upstate taps Rochesterian as new leader

Unshackle Upstate, a non-partisan pro-taxpayer advocacy coalition representing Upstate New York, has tapped a Monroe County legislator and former small-business owner as its new executive director.

Justin Wilcox will lead the organization’s ongoing advocacy efforts, strengthen partnerships with allied organizations and raise awareness about key issues impacting what the organization calls “upstate’s overburdened taxpayers.”

Justin Wilcox
Justin Wilcox

“I’m honored and excited to lead this dynamic organization,” Wilcox said in a statement Tuesday. “Having worked in the public sector as well as the private sector, I know what needs to be done to revive our economy and restore upstate communities. Working together with our leaders in Albany, I believe we can provide real relief for struggling people across Upstate New York.”

Wilcox owned a small roofing business that he founded in the 1990s before serving in state and local government. He has been a Monroe County legislator since 2011, however, his work in the New York State Legislature began two decades ago when was hired as a legislative aide to former state Sen. Richard Dollinger. Since then, he has served as legislative director to former Sen. Ted O’Brien, and former Assembly members Joe Morelle and Jamie Romeo.

“Upstate New York is in the midst of a very real crisis. Businesses are struggling to keep their doors open and far too many hardworking people have lost their jobs,” said Brian Sampson, president of the Empire State Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors and Unshackle Upstate board chairman. “Justin Wilcox has the energy and experience to lead this organization forward. Under Justin’s leadership, we’ll continue to call on elected officials to stand up for upstate.”

Wilcox earned his associate degree from Monroe Community College in 1995 and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University at Buffalo in 2001.

Wilcox succeeds Michael Kracker, a Buffalo resident who had worked in several senior positions in the U.S. House of Representatives, including as deputy chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Chris Collins. Kracker served as executive director of Unshackle Upstate from 2018 until July of this year when he became a senior adviser at the New York State Senate.

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