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NOV 05 - NOV 12, 2015

Divided Opposition Gives Dyster Four More Years

Tony Farina

NOV 05, 2015

Glenn Choolokian

Paul Dyster won a third term as mayor of Niagara Falls on Tuesday thanks in large measure to the write-in campaign waged by one of his fiercest critics over the last four years, Glenn Choolokian, who refused to stop campaigning for mayor after he narrowly lost the Democratic primary to Dyster by 64 votes in September, thereby siphoning off votes from Republican candidate John Accardo on Election Day.

The unofficial count on Tuesday was Dyster with 4,267 votes, Accardo 3,468, and 1,275 write-in votes (Choolokian).  Together, Accardo and the write-in vote totaled 4,743, enough to beat Dyster if the vote had not been split.  Dyster won with less than 50 percent of the vote.

So Choolokian, who attacked Dyster’s secretive management style, spending practices, constituent failures, and Buffalo political connections, may have actually kept Dyster in office by not dropping his campaign after the primary.

Sources tell the Niagara Falls Reporter that Choolokian would have dropped out if he had been guaranteed a high-ranking position in an Accardo administration but Accardo refused to make the promise and an angry Choolokian stayed in.

There you have it, the story of how Dyster won a third term despite high negatives, several major development failures including no Hamister Hotel as promised, and a city on the brink of not being able to pay its bills after spending down its reserves during the gaming crisis. 

Insiders in the political arena say Accardo made a grave mistake by not getting Choolokian out of the race and it cost him any chance of winning.  As for Choolokian, the former council president and taxpayer watchdog did not distinguish his legacy by refusing to live by the primary result and let Accardo run one-on-one against the mayor who he has criticized as a failure for the last four years.

Choolokian, who works for the Falls Water Board, decided a job at city hall was more important to him than turning out Dyster, and when he couldn’t make a jo deal with Accardo, he got angry and divided Dyster’s opposition by staying in the race, guaranteeing the mayor another four years.

For his part, Dyster can claim victory, say he’s still the agent for change for Niagara Falls, and continue to run city hall the way he has for the last eight years, a mixed performance at best and not enough to keep him in office if the majority of voters on Tuesday had won the day.  They didn’t, and Dyster has another four years to finish what he has started, and that apparently includes building a hotel at 310 Rainbow Blvd. promised more than two years ago by Buffalo developer Mark Hamister.

Choolokian will be out come Jan. 1, and so will long-time lawmaker Bob Anderson who often supported Choolokian and former Councilmember Sam Fruscione in opposition to Dyster’s policies.  Fruscione lost after taking on the Hamister Hotel project, and now Choolokian and Anderson will follow, leaving Dyster with a stronger hand with the council that will include newcomers Ezra Scott and Kenneth Tompkins.

For the sake of everyone with a stake in the future of Niagara Falls, the hope is that Dyster’s next four years will be better than the last eight, and that city leaders, including Council President Andrew Touma, can work together to create jobs, deliver services, and build up the reserve fund again for the benefit of all taxpayers.

Dyster may have won with less than a majority vote, but win he did and it is time for the city to come together and heal the wounds of the bitter election and concentrate on making the future a little better for the long suffering residents of the world wonder city.

Niagara Falls needs more spectacular attractions like Nik Wallenda to rise to the next level as a tourist city, and that can be done if the leaders can find a way to work together and put the bitterness of the last four years behind.  But that doesn’t mean a free ride for Dyster, and he should be held accountable for the job he’s doing for as long as he is in office.  That’s the American way.  The first thing he should do is open up government to the public, making it more transparent so people know what’s going on at city hall. .Dyster is only a tenant; city hall belongs to the people.






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©2014 The Niagara Falls Reporter Inc.
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Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
Managing Editor: Dr. Chitra Selvaraj
Senior Editor: Tony Farina