Brian Archie: Trust, Accountability and Building Bridges

As part of a series highlighting the Black candidates currently running for office in the City of Niagara Falls, this article will focus specifically on Democratic candidate for city council Brian Archie. In this series we will examine the Black candidates and judge them not by the color of their skin, but by their own words, thoughts, ideas and platforms.

A potentially historic moment is hanging in the balance for Niagara Falls politics. Two candidates for mayor, Republican frontrunner Carl Cain and underdog activist Demetreus Nix (WAWG) are both challenging incumbent Mayor Robert Restaino. Both challengers are Black men with almost polar opposite backgrounds, and they are both outspoken about the current state of our city.

Additionally, four candidates for Niagara Falls City Council are also Black. For the first time in the history of our city, voters have an opportunity to elect a Black mayor with a majority Black council.

Brian Archie is a recognizable member of our community. Archie tells the Reporter, “Coming into this, people told me I have to campaign all the time. That’s weird for me because many of the places that candidates go to, I’m already there anyway. So now when I’m in these spaces, I still don’t announce myself unless I’m asked to.”

“Community organizing was my inroads into community work and I really enjoy understanding and learning,” says Archie, “Organizing is not about me, it’s about the changes I want to see. From that I learned to connect with the community and fight from the bottom up.”

Archie hails from the North End (also known as District 4), a predominantly Black community which is known for being economically impacted.

Says Archie, “I’ve lived in the North End all of my life. The next logical step in that process is to enter the political arena. I never thought I’d do it but I understand that there’s a power structure that we are often left out of. The best way to understand it is to enter myself into it. I’m doing this as a resident and I’m not affiliated with any pre-existing structure in politics.”

One of many actions taken by Mayor Restaino that has violated the trust of the public is his abuse of special meetings, effectively censoring public input on his agendas. Of this, Archie says “When the special meetings first started happening, I looked at the city charter to understand their purpose. But when they’re consistent like how they’ve been two every month, that is a purposeful way to not either provide information or to get less public input. I don’t agree with that. The people should be afforded an opportunity to express the way we feel.”

Regarding the Mayor’s abuse of special meetings, Archie continued: “I don’t know what is really causing the special meetings but I don’t agree with the way it’s been functioning. I don’t think that’s proper and it doesn’t make people feel that they should trust what’s actually happening when they’re not being informed.”

He adds, “Reducing the special meetings as they are currently taking place will allow people to have the opportunity to be involved. Right now people don’t trust the system.”

Archie’s approach to serving the public differs from the other candidates in his perspective. “I believe in transformation over transaction,” he says, “I’m successful working with people because I take time to build relationships and trust. When you start to work in a transactional format, it takes people out of it and it’s more give/take, sometimes more take on one side than the other.”


Says Archie, “Council members can’t have divisiveness simply because of party affiliation. We are elected as at large council people. We need to touch every part of Niagara Falls that we can, and uplift those voices. We’re there to serve. After campaign time, we still need to be at events.”

Archie was bothered by the fact that current council members have said they are no longer able to communicate directly with department heads. Mayor Restaino has made it so that department heads must instead work directly with himself or his brother Anthony Restaino, the city administrator.

Says Archie, “We still need to go to places of distress and houses of worship to see how we can bring and connect resources to those places. I was told that after 4 PM as a council member you can talk to anyone you want to talk to, including department heads. If those department heads know that something isn’t right it’s up to them to speak up and speak out about it.”

Archie expressed that every public servant should be held accountable for their actions and that they each have a responsibility to the public. He says, “Let’s keep it real. If department heads know something is happening then they need to do something about it and not wait for someone to tell them. They’re in fear of their job. I hear from every single city worker that they’re talking about people being disgruntled and not liking what’s going on.”

He was also critical of the Mayor’s proposed use of CDBG funds to offset a loan for his Centennial Park project. Says Archie, “I will absolutely never, ever vote for CDBG to be used for Centennial Park. CDBG is for the community. That is to be used to fill the gap in resources that are needed for the people, from Highland or LaSalle. It is not for a development project.”

Archie also has plenty of quality ideas for improving our city. He says, “Our low hanging fruit is tourism and I agree with job creation. Of course we need to extend the tourist season but that’s not where all of our eggs should lay. We need to be seeking out other opportunities to diversify our employment portfolio so people have options. Not everyone wants to be a housekeeper or work in a hotel.”

He added, “We should start with tourism because that’s what we have. We should be propping up our small businesses and local entrepreneurs, and create a small business incubator like Buffalo has. We can do it like a co-op model.”

Archie also expressed concern over the rising rate of violent crimes and homicides. His approach to abolishing these issues comes from examining their sources.

He says, “We have a generation of youth that we have not attempted to mentor, guide or engage in anything positive. We as a community and even as a nation have allowed social media to raise our kids. They have detached socially and emotionally from what’s real and what’s not. Add on top of that poverty, turmoil in the home, and education that may not be supportive of that individual. Plus lack of guidance and other activities to do… and this is what we’re left with.”

He also stated a fact that some may find jarring, which is “I haven’t heard one time anyone talking about trying to track and figure out who’s bringing guns into our city. Nobody is talking about that.”

Like every other Black candidate, Archie believes that police officers should be more engaged with the community on a level that doesn’t require guns and badges.

He’s also against the garbage fee and he plans on starting a dialogue with New York State and NYPA regarding a more balanced relationship.

He stated, “I would love to phase out the garbage fee. How do we prop up the yearly budget? I don’t know how we’re gonna get it but we should be taxing the state for property taxes. We should also be getting reductions from NYPA, which we don’t get. They should be supporting community initiatives on a consistent yearly basis. They should create a discretionary fund for our community, for infrastructure and community centers in both the North and South ends to prep our youth.”

Like every other member of our community, Archie expressed a special disdain for the garbage fee; “If we’re going another 36 months with a surplus then we definitely need to get rid of the garbage fee. We are not getting anything for that fee except for a handful of mess from Modern.”

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