Carl Cain: The Smart Choice For Mayor

This article is part of a series highlighting the Black candidates currently running for office in the City of Niagara Falls. This article will specifically focus on mayoral candidate Carl Cain. In this series, we strive to 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/entrepreneur 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.

Why does this matter? I wish that I could say that race has nothing to do with politics in our city, but I’d be lying if I did. Race and class often times go hand-in-hand. For years, the city of Niagara Falls has served a small demographic while ignoring the majority of us. That smaller demographic has been the focus of political pandering and largely includes unions and those who are enjoying livable wage jobs. If they’re a part of a voting block, they’re in that demographic.

Those people who are historically ignored are disenfranchised voters who are either not registered or typically stay home instead of showing up to vote. Many of these voters share the sentiment that “nothing will ever change so why bother.” It’s a horrible thing to feel powerless, but hopefully people are seeing the opportunity at hand.

I’m not saying we should vote for any candidate solely because of their race. What I am saying is that race is a considerable factor in this election. Especially because of the fact that homicides and violent crimes are at an all time high, as is homelessness and poverty. 

Our current mayor is a former disgraced White judge who has displayed tendencies as a bully and a bigot. He’s not exactly the best figure to connect to at risk youth in impoverished parts of our city. Most people in those neighborhoods, such as District 4, say that they’ve only ever seen Mayor Restaino during election season.

Carl Cain is a 29 year veteran of the Niagara Falls police force and a military veteran. During a time when crime is rampant in our city, Cain is ready to step up and combat the crimewave head on. There is nobody more qualified for this task than Mr. Cain.

Says Cain, “I put being fair and being competent above being Black. It never dawned on me that we have this opportunity until you mentioned it.”

Cain continued, saying “I think it’s important that the mayor is a role model, and it’s especially important for those that are underrepresented because they can actually see that, regardless of the circumstance you’re in, you can still ascend to better places. Most of us who come from underrepresented populations get out through education. I understand the ones who are highlighted are in entertainment, i.e; sports… but really, more of us change our lot in life through education than anything else.”

Cain expressed his plans for after school programs which will focus more on education and less on sports. He said, “Kids who do well in school are often left out too. We have programs for kids who are failing but what about kids who get good grades? We need something for them too.”

As a retired member of law enforcement, Cain understands the connections between lack of education and criminal activity. Says Cain, “My after school program is going to be academically based. We cheapen kids when all we do is take them and roll out a ball. They need to be competent in reading and able to engage with people. No matter where you go, you’re going to have to talk with people whether it’s for a job or owning a business.”

It’s statistically proven that education and jobs help combat crime more than arresting people, which is reactionary. Cain believes in vocational teaching and trade schools, adding “and we need to teach them how to run a business, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Cain says that “Crime is mostly geographical but most of it is young Black men and women when it comes to fighting, burglaries etc. We gotta get these people to graduate from high school. High school education is huge. Many people who end up in jail are those who didn’t graduate from high school. I’ll sit down with the board of education and ask them how can we work together to get more people graduating high school. I’ll also go to neighborhoods to tell people that they have to support this too because it starts at home.”

Additionally, Cain says that he plans on connecting with programs that already exist for children. “There are already people out there who have programs,” says Cain, “I’ve spoken to some with programs in Buffalo and they said they’ve reached out to Mayor Restaino and told him they want to bring their programs to Niagara Falls. They said it won’t cost anything they just need a place to work out of. This pastor is named Charles Walker from Buffalo and he said nobody is listening to them in City Hall. We could have these programs right now and we have nothing to lose, so I will be partnering with them to help our community.”

Cain is also an advocate for changing the current bail reform policies in New York State, which he attributes to the high crime rate in our city. “Statistically if you grew up in a house with someone who went to jail then you’re likely to end up in jail,” he says. “Every action has a consequence. An unintended consequence of catch and release is that now police end up making fewer arrests. Now you have the criminals who are even bolder because they’re not even going to be arrested and given an appearance ticket.”

Several of the police officers I know personally have echoed Cain’s sentiments. They feel like they can’t properly do their job due to bail reform and catch and release policies. Some have even told me that they don’t bother arresting anybody because “It’s just an appearance ticket.”

Cain wants to change this from the top down; he stated “I will absolutely advocate to fix bail reform and catch and release. I will be a strong advocate for bail reform but not in its current form. It’s not our job to second guess the law. It’s our job to enforce the law. Meaning if you steal, you get caught, you get arrested. I will not allow officers to justify not making arrests.”

Cain continued, saying “A lot of agencies have taken the perspective of ‘don’t even catch.’ I definitely have input on that and we WILL catch. One thing I will do in office is team up with senators to present our concern to the governor to have the current bail reform changed. I don’t blame the mayor for murder but I do blame him for not speaking out against the murders. It shows a lack of caring.”

Carl Cain also emphasized fixing the blight in our city and having a stronger relationship with residents, built on trust. While our current mayor has infamously used special meetings to censor public input on his agendas, Cain stresses bonds and transparency.

“When you fix the blight, it lets the neighborhood know that you care. So when you ask them to speak out against crime, they feel that because you care you will actually do something about it. Right now they don’t feel safe calling the police to tell them where the crime is because they feel that nobody is going to do anything about it,” says Cain.

He continued, saying, “If you want to know what’s going on in the streets, you gotta talk to somebody in the streets. They have to trust you just like you have to trust that they’re telling you the truth. You have to have that relationship.”

Regarding transparency, Cain had this to say; “I would absolutely be more open than our current mayor. I have a track record at the police department to prove it. When I was in internal affairs, every month we used to put our statistics on the police website. Community relations every month we’d post our statistics and let everyone know everything. I’ve shown for eight years that I could be transparent. And believe me, nobody in the police department wanted our statistics to be publicized.”

He added, “I understand that when people are running for office, we all generally say the same thing. But I truly am not a politician. I’m a public servant and I’m gonna get it done. Judge me by my record.”

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