From the Morning Memo:

At the peak of New York’s ride-hailing debate, former Republican Erie County Executive Joel Giambra provided his knowledge and expertise to Buffalo’s largest taxi company. And now he’s taking on a larger role.

In 2016, Giambra worked as a consultant for Liberty Cab, acting as a spokesman and advocating for a level playing field for traditional cab companies with ride-hailing heavyweights like Uber and Lyft.

In 2019, he’ll be leading the way in trying to help Liberty compete with those companies as the new chief operations officer of the company.

“I believe Joel Giambra, with his experience as a chief executive and in politics as well as in business development, brings the right credentials to his new position with Liberty,” founder and President Bill Yuhnke said. “I am looking forward to working with him and my daughter, Lisa, in the coming days. It is an exciting time.”

Yuhnke said that over the past several years, even as the market has changed with the introduction of ride-sharing, his company has been able to “hold its ground,” thanks to modernization and deregulation efforts. Giambra assisted with that battle, and said it needed to be waged.

“It was very difficult given the money and the political influence wielded by the technology companies,” he said. “But under Bill’s leadership, much has been accomplished and many of the regulations holding down the taxi industry in the city have been removed, helping to level the playing field. I hope to build on that forward momentum and continue to improve the ground transportation industry.”

Last year, Giambra, a Democrat-turned-Republican announced a rather quixotic campaign for governor of New York.

After failing to gain traction with the Republican party, he attempted a third-party bid with the Reform party, but ultimately it was GOP candidate Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess Conty executive, who secured the line, running unsuccessfully against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the general election.

Giambra is also a staunch proponent for legalizing recreational marijuana, and has lobbied for legislation in the past. He currently owns a Buffalo real estate development company.

He said as COO of Liberty, he plans to pursue new business development opportunities and ways to improve the customer experience.