Baillie challenges Voccio for District 6 County Legislature Seat

It is official, I, Gaelan Baillie, have decided to run for office. I am seeking a seat on the County Legislature in the 6th district in the city of Niagara Falls. District 6 is a very special place to me. It is where I live, where my wife and I are raising our two beautiful kids, and it is where my small business is located.

I have spent most of my adult life developing, creating and operating different business ventures in the city of Niagara Falls. At 24 years old, I started out as a tour guide, working for several companies performing guided tours of Niagara Falls. Then in 2011, I started a bicycle rickshaw business, where I hustled quick rides to and from the NF State Park, and performed tours to the many visitors. That idea evolved into walking tours, bike tours, and eventually into recreational rentals. My small business, which started with just me, has grown into a full scale rental operation that during the tourist season employs 4 full time employees and rents equipment to thousand of visitors a season. But it has not been easy. Owning, operating, and starting a business in NF is one of the hardest things to do. I had to overcome numerous obstacles and hurdles, and of course bureaucratic red tape. But despite all of that, I have been successful. My success in NF has given to me what I value the most. I was able to get married, to buy a house, to have kids and start a family.

So why run for office? Well, the reasons I have decided to run for office are numerous. From the quality of life issues like blight, crime, and lack of economic development, time and time again, nothing seems to change in NF. Well, I can’t accept that anymore, and neither should you. I believe that a change has got to come. How much longer are we as residents going to keep accepting blight, dilapidated houses and vacant empty store fronts. How much longer are we going to keep accepting the excuse that there isn’t any funding for this or that? At some point we have to stand up and say enough is enough. If we want to fix this city and turn it around, we need bold leadership. We need daring leadership. We need leadership that cares more about fixing issues than re-election. We need leadership that is willing to have tough conversations about issues and solutions, even if that makes the people in power uncomfortable.

The city of NF surrounds the oldest state park in America. We are the first tourist destination in country. How can a city surrounding a wonder such as Niagara Falls be in such dispair? Well I have answers to that. I know exactly how the tourism industry works and who the winner and losers are. As of right now, we the residents are the losers. We are not benefiting from our tourism industry as we should. There is so much money that passes through the city from tourism, meanwhile we are told again and again that we are broke. Lights for a skate park? Sorry nope. Festival of Lights? No, sorry. A community center for the youth? Nope not gonna happen. Can we fix up or tear down these decaying properties that just sit as eyesores all across our city, hurting our morale and making us lose hope? Time and time again we are given an excuse of why all these things can’t or won’t be done. Well I am here to tell you it can be done. We can use our tourism industry as a tool to lift us up and fix all these issues. We can use tourism to create good paying jobs for our residents and we can turn NF into a city that we are all proud of. Not a city that our youth can’t wait escape once they graduate.

Make no mistake this won’t be easy, and make no mistake that the words you are reading are not that of a politician, but the words of an entrepreneur, an innovator, a problem solver, a believer in NF. Up until recently I was registered as No Official Party. I am seeking the endorsement, the ballot line, and the vote of any and all registered voters and parties. I believe that the problems and issues that exists in NF are not solely republican or democrat, or only concerns of registered Working Families or Conservatives, these issues transcend political party. I am not interested in political dogma, what I am interested in is solutions to problems.

But the real reason I am running for office is a personal one. It is because I have a great fear. A fear that I believe a lot of us carry. My fear is that in about 14-15 years from now, my kids will graduate NF high school, they will go to college, they will move away from NF and my wife and I will be left watching my kids, and eventually grandkids, grow up via social media. That would break my heart. I don’t want that to happen. I want this city to be a place that people want to live in and not escape. One that people have pride to live in. And because of that I have this undying belief in NF. I believe it has so much potential and endless amounts of untapped opportunities. It has given me so much, it has allowed me to live my American dream, and because of that it is my duty to give back and to fight for what this city deserves, so you too can live your American dream.
I started my first business in the tourism industry way back in July of 2011. I had worked for a few different bus tour companies and I was really good at doing tours, and I believed I could come up with a better product or service. So I went for it, I saw these pedicabs, bicycle rickshaws in other cities, so I spent money I had saved up and borrowed some money from my sister because I was broke at the time, and I bought one.

Little did I know that it would be a crash course on Niagara Falls tourism, and just how Niagara Falls operates. I ran into road block after road block. State parks and Delaware North wouldn’t allow me to ride inside the park at first, kept coming up with strange and weird rules to stop me. City officials said I needed a permit, a permit which I couldn’t even apply for because one did not exist. You would have thought I was selling enriched uranium with the amount of pushback and red tape I experienced. So I did what I always do, I found a way around them. I decide to give tours and rides for free! Because I couldn’t solicit a sale, the only way I could keep operating was if I only accepted tips or donations which doesn’t count as a solicitation. Which I do not recommend anyone ever do, to work solely for tips, especially if you are pedaling a 200lb bicycle that could pull up to 800 lbs of weight. I lost 30 lbs in 2 months that summer, but I learned so much about tourism, business, and government. But I was persistent, driven and wouldn’t take no for an answer, eventually getting permits to operate my pedicab business. But I learned an undeniable fact about the city and the powers to be, that they are resistant to change.

There is a culture here, that to this day, is afraid of change. And change is what I represent. A new way of doing things is what I represent. So if you think Niagara Falls needs change, if you are not content with the condition of NF, if you are not satisfied with your representation, then you will vote for me, Gaelan Baillie for District 6 County Legislature.

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