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JUNE 9 - JUNE 17, 2015

The Strange Saga of Political Candidates in NT!

By Sweeney Payne

JUNE 9, 2015

Our appointed Mayor Pappas will try to be our elected mayor. Will he succeed?
P. Russell Rizzo - is running - but hopefully not for his life!

We are likely to have a mayoral campaign between two gentlemen who both have long-time North Tonawanda school connections: Arthur Pappas and John Tylec.

Other than Pappas’ having been very late with property taxes on his boathouse properties during a previous unsuccessful campaign about a decade ago,  both appear to be good men. 

Tylec has serious Niagara County experience as well.

The question is, do either of them have the guts to stand on their own two feet in making decisions if we elect them? 
How much does each owe to his party? 

We repeat, we don’t want Democrats or Republicans.  We want candidates who represent us as our public servants.

In their campaigns, will we learn why Pappas was selected over Tylec in December to replace Rob Ortt after we’d already elected Pappas as our alderman-at-large? 

We’re grateful of course that carpetbagger David Burgio wasn’t selected.

It would seem that the more qualified person for appointment as mayor in December would be the one who had both the School District experience and the Niagara County experience: Tylec. 

Other than that these two are pretty evenly matched.

They certainly don’t have the guerilla vs. the peons mentality we’ve had from some in the past from both parties.  

However, in NT, politicians are born and raised and fed for life by the cronyism that makes jobs for them in City Hall, city departments, the NT School District, Niagara County or New York State government entities.

Happily neither Tylec nor Pappas appears to be interested in using the office of mayor as a steppingstone to become state senator, assemblyman, or Niagara County legislator or clerk. 

But there are still income generating positions out there for loyal party members, for friends and family.

Wouldn’t it be great if whoever is elected as mayor would publicly ask for volunteers for positions he needs to fill on city boards and commissions next year instead of making appointments as political payback?

Until endorsed to run in the fall and elected, Pappas is not able to be anything other than a ceremonial mayor.

A year ago he was endorsed, ran and was elected by us to serve as alderman-at-large after running to be an alderman unsuccessfully in the past and for mayor once also. 

He’d have had a year to prove himself to us as alderman-at-large since he was elected to complete the term we’d previously elected Bob Clark to.
Instead, he accepted the appointed mayoral role where we all know he has to mind his p’s and q’s (meaning positions and questions) and be sure they all stay in line with the party line.

Fortunately, Ortt probably knew he didn’t know how to run city government so he brought on Robert Welch as his executive assistant and left him behind when he went to Albany. 

Pappas is the beneficiary of the knowledge and experience of Welch, who, although lacking the title, is doing the work of a city manager. 

Perhaps we should change the charter and revert back to a ceremonial mayor and have a city manager, since we already have one in place?

In May we learned that Russ Rizzo was finally retiring and Cathy Schwandt had been set up to become president of the Council again IF she gets elected.

Now, she’s appointed, not elected, as are Pecoraro, Quinn—and Mayor Pappas!

Are we the only ones who think that smells?

It’s good that we didn’t celebrate too soon at the news that Rizzo wasn’t running for re-election.  He’s changed his mind—or it was changed for him. 

It seems that no one else was interested in representing us on the Common Council from that party!

Ortt had been appointed as a 27-year-old financial analyst in April 2007 to fill the post of City Treasurer as successor to Leslie Stolzenfels who stepped down after 24 years “to become deputy treasurer of Niagara County” after the school board complained loudly about inefficiencies in her office. 

At the time, Rizzo voted against appointing Ortt!

But that was before Rizzo climbed deeply under the covers in the bed of the local Republican Party during the Ortt administration.

In 2007 when Mayor Soos was trying to get proper staffing in the mayor’s office, the common council, controlled then by the Republicans, except for Kevin Brick, refused. 

Rizzo always voted with the Republicans. 

However, in 2010 when Ortt became Mayor, he had both a full-time executive assistant and secretary and no one complained, not even Rizzo. 

Surely there is someone else out there who wants to represent us on the Common Council!





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