Nick Vilardo would have been fire chief and saved taxpayers money.
Incumbent Niagara Falls School Board Members Art Jocoy and Nick Vilardo say they're running as a team in the May 20th school board election, a team "dedicated to public service and the future of our children."
Jocoy was first elected in 2009 and Vilardo joined the board in 2004.
Jocoy owns Jocoy's Collision and Vilardo, a retired Fire Dept. battalion chief, serves as the board vice president.
Apropos of the latter, we are reminded that, in 2011, Vilardo volunteered to apply for the fire chief's position for a salary of just $30,000 as that's all he could be paid while receiving a retirement pension.
His 30 years on the city Fire Department included 12 as a captain, six as a battalion chief, and six as the chief of fire prevention and code enforcement.. He also served on the board of New York State Fire Investigators, and was qualified for the chief's position in every way.
After letters and phone calls directed to Mayor Paul Dyster went unanswered, Vilardo was finally moved to simply show up at City Hall and appeal to the mayor personally.
He told Dyster that he was already covered under the city's health insurance program, and that he would take the fire chief's job for a salary of just $30,000 a year.
Dyster essentially blew Vilardo off, telling him that an exhaustive nationwide search was being conducted, and that someone with "real" credentials was going to be brought in.
The mayor's search for "the best and the brightest" yielded one Roger Melchior, at $77,000, plus health insurance costing the city another $17,000 per year.
An unemployed Floridian, Melchior's ill health and racist viewpoints, which he published on the internet, limited his tenure to just two months.
Vilardo and Jocoy will face a strong field of challengers including Ken Hamilton, Tom Vitello, Angela Bray, Steven DiNieri and Herbert L. Lewis. Board members are unpaid.