First things first: I really want to thank everyone for their support and ideas regarding what we need to do to move Niagara Falls forward.
The hundreds of comments and thoughts I've received, both in-person and in emails, have confirmed to me that I am not alone in both my frustration and commitment to make Niagara Falls a city where the needs and desires of its citizens and businesses are not only considered, but crafted into a plan for its future.
The idea that only we, the citizens and businesses of Niagara Falls, truly control our destiny as a city is a strong one.
Outside interests can only control us if we allow them to. Remember, in the end, your voice, your choice (vote), controls your future.
Now, back to simple things.
I need to dispel some rumors about me. People are saying, "He doesn't know how the game is played".
That, my friends, is because I truly don't believe that our future is a game to be played by outside interests for the amusement of millionaires and their "special"friends.
I believe we owe our commitment and loyalty to the generations past that worked to build this city, and to the future generations of citizens and businesses that will continue to build upon, rather than tear down, what they worked their whole lives to achieve.
Some have hinted that I am naïve, and that I am not supposed to state such strong ideas and views during the campaign, because if I was successful, these things would come back to bite me.
But what if I'm not naïve, but rather am stating my ideas and views in writing, audio, and video, so that people can truly see where I stand?
I am consciously creating a public record to hold me accountable to the citizens that would elect me.
What if I would truly be disappointed in this newspaper if it did not do its journalistic duty and take a big chunk out of me if I lose focus and put my administration's needs and wants ahead of that of the citizens and businesses of Niagara Falls?
To others, it may seem naïve to put the future of my campaign in the hands of the citizens, rather than in some strong political party or operative.
To some, it may seem naïve that I believe that large amounts of money for junk mail and ads don't really matter. If that is considered naïve, then so be it.
What I do know is that, without the citizens of Niagara Falls behind me, no real change can occur. No political party or amount of money can change the attitudes or the direction in which we are traveling without including the voices of the citizens and businesses.
Today, I'm going to give you the plan to forever change our city's future. This simple plan can not only ensure our future, but can set the path for generations to come. It involves just three simple letters: E.P.C.
Right now, all my political opponents are laughing. They're saying: "We didn't have to say a word! He tore the wheels off his wagon all by himself! Forty years of trying and failing, and he thinks three letters are going to save us?"
The one thing I have learned in my life is that, when people doubt and say it can't be done, it means that they couldn't do it.
Every change in human history has been tried and failed by someone else before they got it right. Remember, past performance does not guarantee future results.
Okay, I've allowed the politicians to laugh at me long enough. I wouldn't want them to fall over, roll around, and drop some of our taxpayer dollars.
So, these three simple letters, E.P.C., stand for three powerful words: EDUCATION, PARTICIPATION, and COOPERATION.
These three words, not the political floundering of the past, represent the key to our future.
#1.EDUCATION. To me, this is a twofold problem. First, we need to be willing to educate the citizens to the problems we, as a city, are facing.
We absolutely need to have a more open policy to decisions affecting the citizens and businesses of Niagara Falls. A citizen should not have to F.O.I.L. every bit of information in order to be aware of what their elected officials are doing to them or for them.
Common sense dictates that a more aware public will help develop better working relations with elected officials.
Secondly, we have to change the way we are educating our children. We are leaving far too many of our children behind. Remember, they are the future of the city.
So, I would strongly propose, with the cooperation of the school district of Niagara Falls, the formation of a trade and technical school. This would reach out not only to the children that we are losing, but to our under-skilled and under-employed citizens.
This proposal, I believe, could be best accomplished through a joint cooperative effort with the Niagara Falls School Board.
This would not only increase funding for our school district, but create a generation of taxpayers, able to find good-paying jobs, buy a house, raise a family, and contribute back to the community.
Education, rather than subsidized housing, does a community make.
#2. PARTICIPATION. One man, one administration, cannot create change.
Participation by all involved is critical to our future.
Knowing that your voice is not only wanted, but needed to create change, makes everyone work harder and share in both the desire and responsibility for the direction the city takes.
How many times in our lives have we thought, "Man, I would have loved to have been a part of that, but no one asked."
It's truly time to ask.
#3. COOPERATION. Last but not least, cooperation is what, in the past, has seemed impossible to achieve. But I believe that was only true because the first and second parts of this simple solution weren't present.
By educating the citizens to the problems, and by asking for their cooperation in solving them, we, as a community, will be better able to cooperate on a true solution for a brighter future. We all have a stake in this.
In closing, don't let them convince you it can't be done. We started this four weeks ago; people are thinking, people are talking. Hundreds of comments and what-ifs. A plan is coming together. Your voices are being heard. All of this in just four weeks. Think what we, working together, could accomplish in four years.