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GOP Council Candidates Say They Have Been Well Received

By Tony Farina

Russ Vesci has gone door to door.

The all-important race for the three open seats on the five-member Niagara Falls City Council is in full gear as Election Day approaches, and the two Republicans actively campaigning for a council seat both think they have scored well with Republican and Democratic voters in their door-to-door campaigns. There are three Republicans on the ballot, but the third, Robert Elder, has apparently dropped out due to a family illness.

“I think it is going really good,” says Russell Vesci, a martial arts champion who is making his first run for public office. “I’m hitting a lot of Democratic houses, and people are fed up and dissatisfied with their own party. I let them know that I am in it for the good of the taxpayers, families, and small businesses, and my message has been well received.”

Vesci, who has three out of six lines (R, I, C) on the ballot, says he’s not running for office for any personal gain but because “I can’t stand what’s been done to the city,” emphasizing that he believes crime is the major issue.

“When my wife, Pam, does the shopping on Saturdays, I dread getting a phone call that something has happened,” says the undefeated martial arts king. “That’s not the kind of city people want.”

Vesci says millions of dollars spent on things like the costly public safety building and the Holiday Market fiasco could better be used to beef up police protection in a city facing a rising crime wave, and he would support putting more cops on the street over giving millions to millionaire developers and other get-rich quick projects that seem to find a home in Niagara Falls.

The first-time office seeker says while he supports downtown development, it would be the kind of attractions that are family friendly, mom and pop variety, that would bring people to the falls much like the what happens on the Canadian side.

And Vesci says things like the much talked about Nik Wallenda experience center along with shops, museums, and cafes might be just the recipe for attracting tourists to a downtown hub along Old Falls Street.

The other Republican in the race is Vince Sandonato, a former Niagara County legislator who won his seat in a stunning upset in a district centered in heavily Democratic LaSalle, a sign, according to his backers, that he can attract the kind of Democratic support the will need next Tuesday.

Another plus for Sandonato is the fact he has five out of six lines on the ballot (R, I, C, WF, Green) as he campaigns on a platform of creating living wage jobs, encouraging economic development, repealing personal benefits for elected officials like lifetime healthcare, and reducing tax rates.

“I’ve already visited between 1,300 and 1,400 homes, and I will continue to go door-to-door right up to Election Day,” says Sandonato who has the strong support of top Republican strategist Henry Wojtaszek, a key ally of powerful Republican State Sen. George Maziarz.

Wojtaszek has said if anyone can overcome the odds and win as a Republican in heavily-Democratic Niagara Falls, it is the hard working Sandonato who did just that in his legislative race.

Also in the race, of course, are the three Democratic primary winners, incumbents Kristen Grandinetti and Charles Walker, and newcomer Andrew Touma who is expected to be a strong supporter of Mayor Dyster along with the other two if successful.

The seventh candidate in the race is incumbent Sam Fruscione who lost the Democratic line in the primary and is campaigning on two minor lines (C, I). Fruscione is a past chairman of the council and is seen as a strong fiscal watchdog.



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

OCT 29, 2013