As reported on page three of this publication, James "Jim" Szwedo has announced his candidacy in the upcoming Republican primary election for Mayor of the City of Niagara Falls. He is a Niagara Falls resident, an East-side community leader, small businessman and property owner.
"It is time for a reality check in this community," Szwedo said, "We don't need PHD'S, educators, or professional retirees behind the mayor's desk. We need an individual who knows the pain of our residents. We need a leader who can understand this suffering because he has lived it. Jimmy Griffin turned around the City of Buffalo as the 'People's Mayor'. I believe there can be no better time to put the future of Niagara Falls in the hands of its people than in 2015."
Szwedo, who has a wide ranging platform, started off with the city's drug epidemic, multiple shootings and ongoing quality-of-life crimes.
He promised the reallocation of police assets.
"Even though the Dyster administration claims to have put more officers on the street, we will take more officers off of special assignments, out of the buildings, and back onto the streets, connecting with the citizens and the businesses of Niagara Falls, " Szwedo said. "In addition, we will add additional officers, because the safety of the citizens and businesses in Niagara Falls is our utmost concern. We cannot attract new residents, businesses, and customers to the city if we cannot guarantee their safety."
Szwedo also pledged to have "a true open-door policy at city hall. No police officers guarding city hall; all will be relocated on the streets that need them for the protection of all our citizens."
As part of the open-door policy for a Mayor Jim Szwedo, he said "we will partner with all parties who have an interest in the success of the city of Niagara Falls. This will include county, state, school district, business associations, block clubs, and citizens. These groups and individuals will become the eyes, ears, and soul of what we believe will be a new, greater Niagara Falls."
Szwedo also spoke of his personal struggles in Niagara Falls.
"Over the last three decades," he said, "I have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in dozens of properties only to see those ventures fail or lose them to the pressures of exorbitant tax structures."
With those difficulties behind him, the father of three sons still looks to this city's future. He talked of incentives for small business development, while demanding timelines from bigger developers and investors.
He said he would end the paying of six-figure salaries for appointed officials and department heads at city hall.
"Ninety nine percent of the residents of Niagara Falls live on less; why should we be a government of the one-percenters? I proposes a 10--20% salary cut to all appointees across the board," Szwedo said.
He will seek a comprehensive redevelopment program for Main Street.
"The present administration has spent in excess of $100 million on what is sure to be failed projects (courthouse, police station, train station)."
And his council meetings will, he said, include all department heads to answer questions and address the needs of the residents and businesses of Niagara Falls.
"I grew up in a family of six children with a loving mother who kept our family together while my dad worked tirelessly at Hooker/Occidental to support his family," Szwedo said. "I long for those days when there was a job on every corner, our neighborhoods were safe and the needs of the everyday taxpayer really mattered.
"Like so many of our residents, I have stood by and waited for the renaissance of our city that was promised with the arrival of casino gaming. Look around. Drive our streets. Visit our neighborhoods. Check out our business districts. That promised 'Renaissance' never came. Our everyday residents still struggle to get by. Our senior citizens live from pension check to pension check. Our properties are over-taxed. Our young people continue to move away. All this while we are fed pipe dream after pipe dream by city hall.
"Niagara Falls remains a city decimated by the loss of its industries with its failed hopes invested in a 'fairy tale' of an underground railroad museum, a grossly over-sized and over-priced public safety building and an Inter-modal Transportation Facility (train station) whose very construction ignores the travel patterns of today's society.
"As the mayor of this city, being 60 years old, I am not looking for a career, but I intend to become the bridge to transition this community to better days."
Szwedo resides in the Niagara Street area of Niagara Falls with his wife Sharon and their three sons James, Stephen and Cole.
"If elected, we will be considered the 'now' for Niagara Falls, but the future belongs to our children and grandchildren, and we will become the mechanism by which they will have an interest in staying, and continuing the rebirth that we will begin.
"To those of you who feel that your time has passed and that you no longer matter, I ask you to have faith once more, and vote for change. For those of you that feel no one is listening, I promise you that we will listen. And for the young: we need you to vote, because we will make you a part of a better future for Niagara Falls.
"This election demands a choice of the people, not of any one political party. I would welcome the honor of turning this city around. I would be a 'People's Mayor' who knows his limitations and will put together an administration whose only interest is to move this city forward."