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MAR 10 - MAR 17, 2015

Mayoral Candidate Szwedo Talks His Talk with Sense of Humor

By Jim Szwedo

March 10, 2015

James Szwedo - running for mayor of Niagara Falls- in the Republican primary - had this to say: Side note to all other politicians and candi dates seeking election (or re-election) in Niagara Falls: When I started my journey to represent the good citizens of Niagara Falls as their Mayor, I was told, "Don't bother". "People won't care what you say"; "People don't vote"; "The same people win because the same people vote". "The people have given up"; "They won't pick up your call"; "They are not listening". Wow. For just a minute, this really bothered me. But then it dawned on me: What if the people of Niagara Falls haven't given up? What if they are listening? And what if they haven't answered because they were just waiting for the right person to call?

The Candidate Promises

I would also like to address what some people are suggesting are my shortcomings in my bid to represent the people as the next Mayor of Niagara Falls.

#1. "You take things too seriously. You go too far in your opinions. You have no sense of humor when it comes to the people of Niagara Falls."

Too serious? Take things too personally? Way too passionate? You got me, I admit it. I want you to know I'm working on that.

To prove it, here's a little joke: How do you know a politician is lying to the citizens who elected him?

Answer: when he holds high-priced fundraisers in a city whose interests he doesn't represent. Oh, wait! I apologize to the current Niagara Falls administration, because they assure me they have been aggressively representing Buffalo interests for all of their seven plus years in office.

So much for not being able to take a joke.

#2. "You are not a politician, and we do not have time for you to learn on the job."

Okay, after 30 years of professional politicians, I ask you, the residents of Niagara Falls: are you any better off? Is the house you bought 20 years ago worth more than when you bought it? Do you feel any safer walking in your neighborhoods and on your city streets?

Are the business districts that were once the heart of this city thriving? Places like Pine Avenue, Main Street, Niagara Street, Buffalo Avenue, LaSalle, and 3rd Street.

Are your children staying and working in Niagara Falls? Has resident home ownership increased in the city?

Oh, wait, here's another joke.

We only have two builders in the City of Niagara Falls: subsidized housing builders from outside the city (brought to you by our current politicians and administration), and, of course, Habitat for Humanity. How can they say I can't take a joke?

I consider the fact that I am not a politician to be one of my greatest assets and qualifications.

#3. "He hasn't stated his plan for turning the city around. We can't wait any longer. We need results now!"

So here's the deal: 30 years of going in the wrong direction, a lifetime of bad decisions and missed opportunities, brought to you by professional politicians with big plans.

All I can promise you is to try to bring us back to the right direction as quickly as we possibly can.

This, we can accomplish together, by first admitting there are problems, then, together, addressing each and every one of them.

So, here's the big plan: COMMON SENSE.

If elected by the people of Niagara Falls, I will represent the interests of the residents and businesses of Niagara Falls.

As a city, like a family, we cannot spend more than we have.

We need to creatively figure out a way to get more bang for our buck.

This, we will accomplish by creating a plan to address our city's needs, not our administration's wants. Establishing a good, common-sense plan for where we want our city to be in the first year, second year, third year, or fourth will be the first step in eliminating the endless budget crises and emergencies.

A team of department heads that know the city, have a stake here, and share the vision of people and businesses, will be the cornerstone this administration builds on.

#4. The Casino money. This isn't play money; these are taxpayer dollars given to us for what was taken away from us.

A comprehensive spending plan must be put into place for this money.

Economic development, moving the city forward, squeezing every last one of those dollars to get maximum results for our city's future. Small business loans, grants, incentives for entrepreneurial development, a common sense plan with clear direction and goals will be, instituted.

This city was built by businesses and entrepreneurial spirit. Let us get back to what created a great city.

Time for another joke.

What do you now call the man that, during the 1960s and 70s, sold you French fries and hot dogs from a cart on Clifton Hill? Answer: hotel owner.

Niagara Falls, Ontario stayed true to its entrepreneurial spirit by welcoming small businesses and keeping politicians out of the mix.

We, on the other hand, did everything we could to get in their way. Big egos, big plans, bad results. They, the politicians, had a stake in the game, so we, the taxpayers, lost.

Back to the Casino money.

Although some may disagree, economic development requires safer streets, a clean city, a better quality of life for residents and tourists. Without this, we cannot attract new businesses and homeowners.

I will, with the citizens' permission, use casino money for making our city safer and a more welcome place for businesses and residents.

I would take pride in being the Mayor called before the State for not using Casino funds for foolish handouts to well heeled developers but using it on common sense things - like dropping the crime rate by 50% , making the streets safe for all.

I will be the Mayor telling the State that we need a higher percentage of casino funds because we are assuming all the liability. Higher crime, drug addiction, gambling problems, traffic and infrastructure failures, quality-of-life issues, are consequences of Casino development - while the state takes 75 percent of the casino cash.

While the Casino is an important asset to our city, the Senecas also must assume a greater liability for the problems generated by Casino development. Perhaps it is time to remind the Senecas of the promises they made in the beginning, promises of joint ventures and future development involving city businesses and residents.

All they have to do is look outside their billion-dollar development and realize they are not being the good neighbor or pivotal development which was supposed to push all of our city forward.

Common sense.

Representing the citizens who elected me.

Not being indebted to the political parties who spent tens of thousands to get me in office. A willingness to go to bat against the state and developers that take from Niagara Falls without putting anything back.

Meeting and discussing the needs of the businesses and residents.

Accessibility to your government officials.

Not continuously denying a problem exists.

Living within our means.

Creative thinking to solve problems and get the most out of every tax dollar.

A willingness to work together with all elected officials.

Hard work, long hours.

This much, I can promise to you.

But if you're looking for outside interests, big plans, or magic wands, you'd better elect a politician.





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