Kimble Considers Council Candidacy
By Mike Hudson
Former county legislator and current city Water Board member Renae Kimble told the Niagara Falls Reporter in an exclusive interview that she is “seriously considering” running for one of three contested Niagara Falls City Council seats this fall.
The election promises to be a referendum on the tax and spend policies of Mayor Paul Dyster, whose 2013 proposed budget contained an eight percent tax increase that was pared down by the current council majority of Bob Anderson, Glenn Choolokian and Sam Fruscione. Frusione’s seat is one of the three that will be decided in November.
Fruscione has been the top vote getter in every election he’s run in, and his seat is considered safe. Not so those occupied by Kristen Grandinetti - who is facing her first re-election campaign - and Charles Walker, who has been in office forever despite a record that can best be described as unimpressive.
Walker who has not committed yet to seeking re-election, routinely sides with Dyster, as he did with Vince Anello when he was mayor and Irene Elia when she was mayor. He’s never met a mayor he didn’t support.
Grandinetti is Dyster’s neighbor on Orchard Parkway and was handpicked by him to run for council in 2009. Since then, she has attacked who he wanted attacked, supported what he wanted supported and generally behaved like a marionette dangling from strings tied to Dyster’s fingers.
She is certainly the most vulnerable of the three, and would likely lose hands down should the politically astute Kimble decide to run.
Kimble was the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, that created the “new” Second Legislative District which at the time ensured representation by at least one African American on the Niagara County Legislature.
In 1991, she became the first woman to run for the office of mayor of Niagara Falls and, in 1993, the first African American woman elected to political office in Niagara County.
After 18 years, she was the longest serving woman to ever hold a seat in the Niagara County Legislature. She was chairwoman of the Women’s Legislative Caucus.
During her unprecedented nine terms, she also served as both the majority leader for the then Democratic majority in 1997, and vice chairman of the legislature in 2003, to become the highest ranking woman ever to serve in Niagara County government.
She served as chairwoman of the Administration Committee, Economic Development Committee, and Human Resources Committee as well as vice chairwoman of the Finance Committee.
Legislatively, Kimble helped change the way Niagara County government operates.
When elected, Niagara County was run under the committee form of government. Kimble wrote and promoted the Local Law that established the county manager form of government which was adopted in 2002.
She led the fight to save the Niagara Falls Air Base from closure by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission in 2005, (the county, NIAMAC and its partners were successful in keeping the Air Force base off of the base closure list), and lobbied for the creation of a permanent Niagara County seat on the New York Power Authority.
When Kimble took on the state, demanding a greater share of the casino revenues for the benefit of the City of Niagara Falls and Niagara County residents, Dyster cowered in the dark recesses of his Tonawanda beer store, afraid that the state might do something more than it already does to rip off the city and its residents.
If Dyster and others had supported her, something might have come of it.
She joined Dyster’s Underground Railroad Heritage Commission, but when she found out it was nothing more than a self-serving political ploy headed by Walker and Dyster to troll for black votes, she distanced herself from the commission.
She served as a member of the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency where she served as treasurer and as the president of the Niagara Airport Development Corporation. And we all know where that led.
In large part, thanks to her, Niagara Falls has a growing airport.
A former Miss Greater Niagara, Kimble is a member of Dominion Life Christian Center where she serves as a deaconess and the treasurer of the church. She’s unafraid to bring Christ into the public discourse. Kimble has publically stated that she relies on Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthened me.”
"I have been approached (to run for council) and I am seriously considering it. I have not made any decisions,” she told the Reporter. "I am still taking care of my elderly parents (they are both in their 90's), I am weighing balancing my family obligations, church duties and the duty to serve the community."
Kimble resigned from the legislature to devote her time and attention to her 94 year-old mother who broke both her arms and legs.
A Kimble victory would be a disaster for Dyster, whose grip on the reality of running a city seems to slip more with each passing day. It would give the opposition a super 4-1 majority insurmountable by mayoral veto, and likely lead to a more conservative and less spendthrift or tax and spend method of governance.
Look for big campaign contributions from Dyster’s supporters in Buffalo, directed primarily for Grandinetti but also for Walker and at least one so far unnamed “fresh face” who, if elected, will serve as yet another marionette whose strings are pulled by the mayor.
Kimble said she will decide by May if she will seek election to the council.
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