The Niagara Reporter

Choolokian Had the Right to Try to Win

GLenn Choolokian may have been the game changer, but he had the right to play the game.

Niagara Falls – There is a canard around this city that Glenn Choolokian is to blame for Mayor Paul Dyster’s reelection.

Choolokian’s http://southbuffalonews.com300 plus “write in” votes were more than the difference between Dyster and his main challenger, John Accardo, who were separated by about 700 votes.

People say that, had it not been for Choolokian, the will of the majority would have prevailed.

After all, Accardo and Choolokian together got 53 percent of the votes.  Dyster got a minority of votes – 47 percent. But still won.

Some of that majority of voters, who wanted to see someone other than Dyster as mayor, have less than pleasant feelings towards Choolokian.

But there is one thing, not to be forgotten, that is more important than whether Dyster or Accardo is mayor of this city:  Choolokian had the right to run for office.

Even if it did seem hopeless.

Even if the consequences – Dyster’s reelection – were something the majority did not want.

Time and again I hear people say, “Choolokian should have known he had no chance to win. He should have stayed out of the race for the good of the city.”

After losing by less than 75 votes in the primary, Glenn Choolokian decided to stay in the race as a write in candidate.

But Choolokian wanted to be mayor; and, after he lost by less than 75 votes in the Democratic primary against Dyster – he chose not to give up in the general election.

There have been insinuations that Choolokian stayed in the race    – not to win – but to spoil it for Accardo, and help Dyster.

And get a favor in return.

They point to Choolokian as a betrayer.  For years, Choolokian labeled Dyster and his pro-Albany, pro-Buffalo, pro-campaign contributor agenda – as the main problem with the city.

Choolokian campaigned that he wanted to put Niagara Falls first.  He thought he would be able to rescue this poor city – which should be rich with hydropower, tourism, and its casino windfall.

That he split the anti-Dyster vote and handed the man who, in his opinion, hurt the city is one of those bittersweet ironies.  In trying to save the city he loved, he handed the city back to its marauder.

Had he stood aside and not vainly tried, today, most likely, the city would be looking forward to a new age of governance under John Accardo.

But for Choolokian John Accardo might be preparing to usher in a new era for Niagara Falls.

Until anyone can prove, however, that there was a quid pro quo, that Choolokian had a motive other than doing what he thought was best for the city – hopeless as hindsight knows that effort now to be;  until anyone can show he will get a pay off  – a better job at city hall or the water board – because he stayed in the race – and handed the election to Dyster – it is unfair to assert he was a spoiler.

Glenn Choolokian ran for mayor and lost.  He had the right to try.

This is the American way.

And a failure is not always a mistake.