The fix was in. John Accardo is sure of it.
“Can I prove it? No, at least not yet,” said the Republican mayoral candidate, who lost to Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster in the recent election.
Many observers felt that the write in candidacy of Glenn Choolokian, which drew more than 1,300 votes, badly split the anti Dyster cadres, allowing the mayor to win reelection to a third term with less than 50 percent of the vote. Choolokian has widely been seen as the spoiler in the race.
Dyster received a total of 4,258 votes and Accardo got 3,469. With just 800 of Choolokian’s more than 1,300 votes, Accardo would be the city’s next mayor.
Three weeks would elapse between Choolokian’s narrow loss – by less than 65 votes – to Dyster in the Democratic primary, and the announcement of his write in candidacy in the general election. During that period, Accardo said, he was approached by Sam Archie, Choolokian’s campaign manager.
A meeting was set up, Accardo said.
“It’s not like he came right out and asked for a job in my administration,” Accardo said. “And I’d already been advised by my attorney, John Bartolomei, that there couldn’t be any quid pro quo, but the feeling coming from Glenn was definitely ‘what can we do for each other?’”
A short while after the meeting, Choolokian announced that he would stay in the race as a write in candidate.
“Why would it take three weeks to decide?” Accardo asked.
Will Choolokian, who some sources said was “panicked by the loss of his $20,000 annual city Council pay and benefit package after his loss in the primary, wind up working for the state?
Accardo said he’ll be interested to see.
As for Choolokian, he says it is all nonsense.
“I never had any discussions before or after the election with Dyster or with (Empire State Development Vice President) Sam Hoyt,” Choolokian said. “Absolutely not.”
Choolokian said he ran for one reason and one reason alone, to improve conditions in the city.
“I ran a hard campaign trying to save our town,” he said. “I believe that, other than me, it didn’t matter who won because both sides’ only interest was to rob the taxpayers money and to get all the appointed jobs for their people.”
He laughed at the thought that he stayed in the race because of some backroom deal.
“I am not on anyone’s list for any job,” he said.
John Accardo isn’t so sure.