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JUNE 17 - JUNE 25, 2014

Dyster event a portent of the future? Fundraiser kicks off 2015 campaign

By Mike Hudson

June 17, 2014

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster has privately told family and friends that he is planning on running for an unprecedented third term in 2015, the Niagara Falls Reporter has learned.

To that end, he held his first fundraiser last Wednesday. The event, "A Celebration of Progress in Niagara Falls," was held at the Red Coach Inn on Buffalo Avenue and cost $250 a ticket to attend.

About 30 people showed up, including a number of candidates for state Supreme Court and several City Hall department heads. Several Buffalo-based consultants also attended the event, such as engineer David Jaros whose company, LiRo Engineering, oversaw the courthouse construction and other projects for the city; Susan Sherwood of Wendel Engineering, whose company is overseeing the train station; and Michael Mistriner of Cannon Design who designed the Culinary Institute.

Interestingly, the fundraiser, put on by the Friends of Paul Dyster campaign organization, was not advertised anywhere except for the Erie County Democratic Committee's website. It was not listed on the Niagara County Democratic Committee's calendar of events, nor was it advertised in any public media, as far as the Reporter was able to determine, such as the Niagara Gazette.

Dyster has traditionally raised more money from outside the city's boundaries, especially from Erie County, where most of the major consultants, engineering firms and construction companies the mayor employs are located.

In 2007, Dyster faced Councilman Lewis "Babe" Rotella in the Democratic primary after a lack of valid signatures on petitions ended the candidacy of embattled incumbent Vince Anello. Dyster went on to beat Republican Candra Thomason with 79 percent of the vote, one of the largest margins in Niagara Falls history.

Four years later, Dyster faced GOP candidate Johnny Destino who lost by 10 points to Dyster in the general election.

Destino, who came within 800 votes of upsetting Dyster in 2011, is not considered to be a factor in next year's mayoral contest. Following his defeat by Dyster, he lost to state Sen. George Maziarz in a Republican primary where he ran as a Tea Party conservative to the right of the popular incumbent.

Following this loss, Destino became a Democrat and last week the Reporter announced Destino was circulating petitions in an apparent plan to run against Maziarz again, this time in the general election.

Somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 city residents have already voted with their feet by leaving Niagara Falls since Dyster was first elected. These people who fled Niagara Falls are, for the most part, exactly the sort the mayor would seek as his constituency: educated, upwardly mobile young professionals with good job skills.

In the meantime there has been an influx of new residents: dangerously violent sexual predators released after serving their sentences, ex-convicts on parole from institutions throughout the state and welfare recipients from the Five Boroughs of New York City lured by the promise of lower rent and easier access to public assistance programs and subsidized, developer-driven housing projects that the mayor is fond of promoting.

Under Dyster, the city has solidified its position as a place where senior citizens, lacking the money or the energy to move to Florida, live side by side with welfare recipients.

To these add the caregivers and caretakers, the police and parole officers, social services workers and school district employees, the health care professionals and other city workers who make up the only sector of society to thrive under the Dyster administration.

A third Dyster term would undoubtedly be a carbon copy of the first two: concerts in parking lots held to divert attention from the crumbling infrastructure, "green" rhetoric offset by a pursuit of garbage importers and smokestacks belching the incinerated remains of New York City's or Toronto's garbage, and a passionate loyalty to the Buffalo interests who plan his fundraisers and want to see him remain in office.

At $250 a pop, the 30 political insiders who attended the Dyster fundraiser last week netted the candidate a cool $7,500.

At 60 years old, Dyster will be eligible for Social Security in two years. No longer the young Turk who was swept into office with former mayor Irene Elia back in 2000, and certainly not the guy who was once considered as a possible candidate for Congress, Dyster may well aspire to be the mayor of Niagara Falls for the remainder of his working career.





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