(Editor's Note: The publication of candidate's views, written by a candidate, does not constitute an endorsement of a candidate, but rather a desire to help candidates get their message out. Since elections are often decided by voters who are uninformed about either candidate, we hope these articles by Szwedo will help inform voters what he stands for. His opponent, John Accardo, is invited to offer his views in this same forum.)
When did it change?
The definition of "public servant".
It used to be defined as a government official or employee sincerely working for the good of the citizens.
The mayor, the administrator, department heads, police officers, firemen, the Council, the School Board, the Water Board, legislators, teachers, these are public servants. Swearing oaths of office. To protect and serve; first in, last out; care of the children's future.
Some of them still do care.
The elected official that sees the plight of citizens, and believes his voice can make a difference.
The police officer who sees the lines between right and wrong changing, and wants to stand that line. The firefighter who runs into a burning building to rescue a child.
The teacher who gets as much satisfaction as the children in her care; when that little light goes on. The doctors, nurses, and caregivers that celebrate victories and grieve their losses.
Now, here's the question: What changed?
The new definition of public servant in Niagara Falls at least is making far more money than the public you serve, put in your time and get out with a large pension.
What turned a calling into a job?
A mayor who didn't have the officers' backs? An administration that didn't want to hear that demanding careers take tolls on those who work them? Administrators that didn't give the teachers the tools? A bureaucracy that cares more about percentages than the value of human lives?
When I decided to run for office, I was told in effect not to talk about our public servants.
They told me, "Don't talk about the police officers or firefighters" "Don't mention the teachers or the Water Board" "Don't mention Public Works or employee healthcare".
"They will ruin you; you won't win. These are powerful people, with powerful unions".
"As Mayor, you can't change these things anyway".
So I ask them: when did it become about fear and intimidation, and not about the people?
I am running for mayor of Niagara Falls to change everything that you, the citizens, feel is wrong with our government. Accessibility, accountability, listening to your needs, and common sense would become my administration's oath and pledge to you.
These are things I can control: giving you a voice in your future and your city's future.
As far as the other things, I guess I am stupid enough to question people and things I would not have control over. People might say I don't even know what a mayor's job really is, that these questions don't really matter.
But what if I'm dumb enough to ask these people, who I have no control of, these questions, and smart enough to know I truly can't change things without them?
To all the people and businesses I can't control, I must ask: what are you willing to change to make Niagara Falls a better place for all its citizens?