EXCLUSIVE: Restaino Announces New Cabinet

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Mayor-Elect Robert M. Restaino.

Mayor-Elect Taps Brother as City Administrator; Retains Some Holdovers Including Police 

Superintendent and Fire Chief; Adds New Faces

 

By: Tony Farina

It took a little while as one might expect, but Niagara Falls Mayor-elect Robert Restaino has settled on his team, subject to council approval, to help him lead the city as he moves into the mayor’s office on the second floor come Jan. 1, replacing three-term incumbent Paul Dyster.

Perhaps the most important selection by the mayor-elect is a gentleman with the same last name, his brother Anthony Restaino, who will retire from his job as commissioner of Niagara County Social Services to become city administrator, in effect the mayor’s right hand man.

Anthony Restaino was a major advisor to his brother in the bruising and no-holds barred mayoral campaign which saw Robert Restaino win a narrow Democratic primary against top Dyster aide Seth Piccirillo in June and then score an overwhelming victory over three opponents, including Piccirillo and Republican Glenn Choolokian, in November.

 

Anthony Restaino, who has been selected as the City Administrator in his brother’s administration.

 

Mayor-elect Restaino confirms that his brother will take the job after he retires from his Social Services position which pays in the $100,000 range.  As a public office retiree, he will only be able to earn $35,000 as city administrator even though the budget number for the job is $79,490. 

Other key appointments by Mayor-elect Restaino with the budgeted salaries in parenthesis are Kathleen Ligammari, city clerk ($50,861), who comes from the private sector; Dan Morello, controller ($100,663) who will continue in that post;  and Christopher Mazur, corporation counsel ($106,670), who currently serves as deputy corporation counsel.

 

Police Chief Tom Licata will maintain his position as Police Chief under Mayor Robert Restaino.

 

Mayor-elect Restaino has opted to retain Police Supt. Tom Licata ($115,436) and Fire Dept. Chief Joseph Pedulla ($114,266) in their current positions.

Other appointments are two selections for economic development:  Allen Booker and Thomas Tedesco.  Also, Sanquin Starks, youth services director, and Ruby Pulliam who will continue as director of human resources.

 

Fire Chief Joseph Pedulla will maintain his position as Chief under Mayor Robert

 

Restaino says he is asking all his appointees to come prepared with a plan to lead their departments as they take over control of government in a city where the financial challenges are many, especially with the casino revenue-sharing money still in doubt although there is hope that the Seneca Nation will in the end pay the state the $256 million in back payments from 2017 that an aribitration panel and a federal court judge say they owe.

The Senecas have still not announced their plans although sources say the money has been put aside to make that $256 million payment although in all likelihood, the Senecas will reserve the right to continue their appeal.

The mayor-elect says going through the applications of candidates for city positions was a very difficult challenge, and it took him a little longer than expected to finally make his decisions with the full list expected to be announced shortly.

Robert Restaino, the new mayor, has survived his own challenges to finally capture the city’s top job and by every possible measure, he is eager to move forward and help create that vision for the future that he has thought about for years and talked about to this newspaper several years ago.

It comes as no surprise that he selected his trusted brother as his go-to guy as city administrator, a throwback to the JFK days when President picked his brother Bobby to be attorney general.   There’s no question the new mayor will need all  the help he can get trying to move the city forward, and having his brother on the team makes perfect sense.

Expect this team to hit the ground running come next week, and we can only hope that working with a new majority in the council, positive changes will occur and Niagara Falls will reclaim its past glory and begin the process of rebuilding from the ground up, starting with a new leader in city hall.

 

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