Anello Advises Unity May be Best for Democrats

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By: Tony Farina

If Democrats want to protect their line in the November election for mayor of Niagara Falls, they might want to work together against Republican Glenn Choolokian and independent candidate Jeffrey Elder.

That’s the view of former Mayor Vince Anello who knows a thing or two about Niagara Falls politics.

“Anything can happen in a four-way race,” said Anello in looking ahead after the results of last week’s primary when Robert Restaino edged Seth Piccirillo by 127 votes to win the Democratic line in November.

As things stand now, Restaino has the Democratic, Independent, and Conservative lines while Piccirillo has the Working Families Party line and possibly the Green Party line. 

“We’ll see what happens in a week or two after the dust settles on the primary,” said Anello who believes that unity would ultimately work best for Democrats to avoid a possible stunning defeat in an unpredictable four-way race.  Democrats hold a 3 to 1 majority among voters.

Anello recalls the strong showing by former Councilman Choolokian in 2016 as a write-in candidate for mayor after losing a close Democratic primary to incumbent Mayor Paul Dyster.  Choolokian picked up more than 1,200 write-in votes to help Dyster defeat Republican John Accardo in a close election.  Choolokian has since switched parties from Democrat to Republican, hence his current position as the GOP candidate. 

The Democrats, given all the problems facing Niagara Falls in the midst of the gaming stalemate, would be wise to try and work together leading up to November because, as Anello sees it, the only way to put Niagara Falls back together again financially is with people working together.

It is easy to understand Piccirillo’s difficulty in admitting defeat fresh off the very close primary loss but lose he did, and it might be in his party’s best interests to get behind the winner of that primary and search for common ground in healing a broken city.

Despite his strong showing, PIccirillo, a top aide to Dyster for the last six years and the city’s director of community development, must come to grips with the primary results and see the futility and possible damage of his campaign against his party’s nominee.

Anello has his ear to the ground when it comes to Niagara Falls politics, staying in touch with residents through his twice-weekly radio talk show (WJJL 1440 AM) and his visits to local coffee shops and restaurants.  He stops short of calling on Piccirillo to give up his candidacy in the wake of the primary defeat but warns that a four-way race is not the way to protect the Democratic line in November.

The challenges for the next mayor are many, says Anello, and if the city is to recover from the latest gaming crisis and other financial challenges, it will take a unified effort.   

As Anello said in a recent interview with this newspaper, “it will take more than a lone mayor to get anything done.”

As mayor of Niagara Falls from 2003 – 2007, Anello had an open-door policy, but he often faced a council that was unwilling to work with him to make policy changes, making much of his term an uphill political battle.  But that experience taught him that to be successful, the elected leaders of Niagara Falls must put aside political agendas and work for the best interests of the residents who pay them.

With that experience in his portfolio, Anello knows Niagara Falls won’t gain an inch to give citizens a better life unless elected leaders find a way to work together.  Robert Restaino has made working together a theme of his campaign, stressing that Niagara Falls must reach beyond the city’s borders to neighboring jurisdictions to find a way to pull in the same direction for the benefit of all. 

Anello thinks that unity spirit should start sooner rather than later, beginning with the November election.

 

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