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Underdog Status Unacceptable For City Council Candidate Russ Vesci

By Matt Cole

Russ Vesci speaks with Local #91 Laborers Leader, Dick Palladino ..

If you’re from Niagara Falls, regardless what your politics are, one thing that we all love is an underdog and a fighter.

Whether it was the Buffalo Bills miracle comeback against the Houston Oilers on January 3rd, 1993 or Carl Paladino’s landslide over Andrew Cuomo for governor here in Niagara County, we just can’t help it. It’s in our blood.

But it seems that no one over has informed former block club president and United Steelworkers Union member Russ Vesci that he is that underdog in the upcoming race for city council, the one expected to just give up and accept his fate.

Or at least he was supposed to be.

Because, if you attend any of the weekly meetings that Vesci holds with concerned citizens and supporters, “underdog” is one word that we wouldn’t recommend using too loudly.

Not only has Vesci attracted support from unlikely places, but his candidacy has brought together people and groups that one wouldn’t normally expect.

That is just what community activist Ken Hamilton says this city needs. When asked what brought him to attend, Hamilton told The Reporter “Because, I believe in balanced government. Personalities aside, people aside, the system has to be balanced.”

Another influential person who is convinced Vesci is anything but an underdog is Laborers Local 91 Business Manager Dick Palladino.

“I really think we’ve got a shot here. We’re going to pyramid this. If we can get 300 people to get 10 each, we’re good. That’s not an unrealistic number. As long as he continues to get out there and work, I want him to know that we’re behind him.”

Vesci’s message of fighting crime and taxes, both while rebuilding the city’s infrastructure, is one that resonates across traditional party lines.

Former longtime Democratic county legislator and current city Water Board member Renee Kimble has been a familiar face in the room, along with city council chairman and fellow Democrat, Glenn Choolokian.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This isn’t about Democrat or Republican anymore. It’s about getting good honest hardworking people into office. That’s what we need,” said Choolokian.

One hot topic that surfaces repeatedly among Vesci’s supporters is that of frack water.

The Reporter asked “Do you think frack water will end up being treated here now?”

Palladino immediately responded “If the [city council] majority goes the other way, they’ll reverse it.”

Pine Avenue regular Sam Archie agreed.

“I think that ban, frankly, will get overturned within 60 days if they get the [Dyster -controlled city council] majority.”

Attorney, and Democratic political activist Peter Reese agreed by saying “I’m sure that [Governor Andrew] Cuomo wants to get reelected and run for President. There’s an enormous amount of money, trillions of dollars, in fracking. He needs that money.”

Union leader Ron Mang was more interested in Vesci’s fight against property taxes though.

“This mayor wanted a 9 percent tax hike. People say money is important, then [come out and] vote like money is important,” said Mang, encouraging people to come out and vote for Vesci.

When The Reporter was finally able to pry Vesci away from his supporters for a conversation, he repeated his message of fighting crime and taxes, and rebuilding city infrastructure.

“I’m from this city. I live here. I was born and raised here. There’s an escalation in crime. There’s an escalation in violent crime. I’ve been involved with the block clubs. I’m also a martial artist. But I try to tell people that what I really want is to bring back the core family values to our city government and use checks and balances. People are responsive to that.”



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

OCT 15, 2013