The Niagara Reporter

Time for a change here

The main difference between the primary election and the general election coming up this November is that, in the primary, voters are bound to vote only for candidates running on the party lines they are registered in. Democrats can only vote for Democrats and Republicans only for members of the GOP.

With two out of three of the Democratic City Council candidates to make the primary cut – Craig Touma and Kristen Grandinetti – being incumbents who routinely rubber stamp any crazy idea that comes out of Mayor Paul Dyster’s head, the majority they comprised with the retiring Charlie Walker has been devastating for the city.

Now it’s up to you, the voter, to decide what direction you want to take the city in. Because it’s your city.

It’s time to start thinking outside of the box, because now – in the ninth year of Dyster’s reign of error, we’ve spent millions on whimsical initiatives – rock concerts that hurt downtown business, a train station nobody uses, canoe launches, a winter festival nobody wanted to go to and even a cricket field – as we’ve watched the city become as broke as a joke.

If you like what you see around you in the most highly taxed, crime ridden and poverty stricken municipality in the state of New York, fine. You’re insane, but that’s OK with us.

But if you want change, you need to put some new people in office. The change couldn’t possibly be for the worse because – with the loss of the Seneca-Niagara Casino revenue, we’ve already bottomed out.

There are four candidates running in November, three Republicans and one Democrat, whose names aren’t Grandinetti or Touma. All are worthy of consideration, and the election of any three of them would go far towards restoring the checks and balances system of government here that the Founding Fathers imagined nearly 250 years ago.

Republican Chris Voccio recently retired as publisher of the Niagara Gazette following a nearly three year tenure. He also stepped down from the boards of the Niagara USA Chamber and the United Way of Greater Niagara. In his announcement, Voccio described himself as “a lifelong arch-conservative – limited government, free enterprise, law and order.”

Republican Bob Pascoal, president of the Landlords’ Association of Greater Niagara, was a surprise, dark horse candidate for mayor in 2015. He left the race after losing to John Accardo in the primary.

His view of the Dyster administration remains unchanged, however.

“I continue to watch this administration set forth unmeasurable and costly programs and policies without proper checks and balances from certain members of the current council,” Pascoal said. “We have two separate governing bodies in City Hall. If one fails to act responsibly to ensure the best interests of residents and businesses are met, then it is the sworn duty of the other to protect constituents. I believe I can provide residents with the level of oversight needed to slow the speed at which the issues that burden residents and businesses prevail, while offering solutions to the many concerns people continue to voice.”

“I want to be there for the residents whose issues get lost due to inefficient practices at city hall. I want to be there for the business owners whose tax burden leaves them feeling the pinch from unbridled spending,” he added.

Republican Sam Archie, a former vice chairman of the city GOP committee, managed the unsuccessful mayoral bid of Glenn A. Choolokian two years ago. Archie lost Council races in 1993 and 1995.

“We don’t have the right leadership on the Council to effectively supervise and manage the current administration in the best interests of the residents of Niagara Falls,” Archie said. “They have forgotten that it’s about your money. We have all seen current Council members turn their backs on residents and allow the careless and unfocused spending of casino funds by the administration.”

And Democrat Bill Kennedy said it’s time to start taking the tourism business back from the state and make Niagara Falls, not Albany, the decisionmaker on tourism issues.

“We need to start directing traffic into the city so that tourists park outside of Niagara Falls State Park and frequent our downtown establishments, patronize businesses on 3rd Street, and venture into our core neighborhoods,” he said.

“Revitalizing Pine Avenue is essential. Starting from the Aquarium and all the way up Pine Avenue there should be street signs that advertise locally-owned businesses.

“We need new ideas to attract developers to increase business here, to grow out of the situation we are in,” Kennedy added.

So you pay your money and you take your choice. Numerous Republican candidates have won elections here in recent years because crossover Democratic voters had conscience and the courage of their convictions.

Come November, we hope you do as well.