The election season in Niagara Falls has begun, as the office of mayor and two city council seats are up for grabs.
Consequently various candidates in search of signatures of nominating petitions will be coming to voters doors.
Mayor Paul Dyster presently has the blessing of benefiting from a very reliable council majority of three: Kristen Grandinetti, Andrew Touma and Charles Walker.
None of these three council members currently face reelection and so, if Dyster is reelected, he will continue to benefit from the support of this largely unquestioning trio.
The five current council members and the mayor are all Democratic.
Councilman Robert Anderson is looking to be reelected while his fellow councilmember Glenn Choolokian, has chosen to challenge Dyster for mayor and forego the possibility of another term on the council.
Joining Choolokian in challenging Dyster for mayor are Republican candidates, John Accardo and James Szwedo.
After listening to local talk radio and reading the three area newspapers, two dailies and one weekly, I have formed one central notion regarding this year’s mayoral race: The best candidate for mayor isn’t in the race, and that candidate is former Mayor Vince Anello.
Anello’s plain talk as mayor has continued right on through his plain talk as a WJJL talk show host.
The recently endorsed Democratic council candidates, Ezra Scott and Alicia Laible, are part of the Dyster Machine.
These candidates will certainly support Dyster in a third term if the mayor and they are elected.
The City Democratic Committee, with the influence of committee members, Ida Massaro, Becky Dyster, Alicia Laible and Kristen Grandinetti form a strong Dyster core in all that is Democratic in Niagara Falls and leave little room for inner party debate.
Too often personalities decide local races as hard facts take a back seat in the election process. With access to newspapers, the Internet, and talk radio available for information gathering (not to mention attendance at the council meetings) there’s no excuse to remain an uninformed, unquestioning, voter.
Candidate personalities should be discounted and an emphasis must be placed on the candidate’s knowledge and concept of government along with the effect those concepts will have on the city’s future over the next decade.
Does the candidate understand the city budget?
Does the candidate know the difference between civil service and appointed employees as well as the difference in powers and responsibilities of the mayor’s executive branch and the council’s legislative branch?
Does the candidate have a desire to learn what goes into a successfully negotiated bargaining agreement?
What is the candidate’s understanding of how casino revenue should be spent?
Has the candidate taken time to read the NYS Comptroller’s 2013 audit that explained how the city had gone so very wrong in handling its finances?
City personnel costs (with public safety at the top) continue to rise. In fact this administration has caused department head pay as well as employee overtime and stipends to skyrocket. What plans does the candidate seeking your vote have to roll back those costs where possible?
Ask the candidate standing at your door what their plans are to:
* control the cost of government;
* control health insurance expenses;
* manage casino revenue;
* operate the new train station;
* pay the city debt;
* end the costly use of consultant services;
* hire a city engineer;
* honor the city charter;
* and, eliminate the city’s recurring budget deficit.
Vince Anello could answer all these questions and had he continued to serve this city, it would be a far better place today. During his term from 2004-2007 he emphasized fiscal responsibility and the need to maintain responsible control of personnel costs.
But Anello isn’t in the race.
Let us turn to the next best.
When the candidate asks for your vote this year, ask the tough questions and press for the answers
You, the Voter, are the customer, and as such you deserve an honest answer and the best possible government at the end of the day.