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Comedian ‘Black Ernie’ Bivins Says Backing Restaino Was Worst Political Decision He Ever Made – And He Ain’t Joking

By Ken Cosentino

Ernie Bivins AKA “Black Ernie” is one of Niagara Falls’ most recognizable citizens. As a comedian, he has shared the stage with big names such as Mike Epps. Ernie has also been deeply involved in local politics since as far back as 1992.

In 2019, Ernie was a significant part of Mayor Robert Restaino’s election campaign. He put together a crew of friends and helped pass out flyers and signs in the Fourth District. He also registered new voters and helped drive people to the polls. On election night, Ernie was Restaino’s runner – meaning he picked up the polling results and brought them back to the Como Restaurant where Restaino waited in anticipation with his supporters.

Last year, Ernie Bivins moved to Las Vegas to advance his career as an entertainer. He says seeing how Las Vegas is run opened his eyes and changed his perception.

“Seeing how people work together in Las Vegas, it made me think of my hometown.” Says Ernie, “The kids have nowhere to go and nothing to do. They cut all the youth programs, the night programs and the YMCA. The kids are out on the streets, and I still have family there. I want what’s best for them.”

Ernie told the Reporter, “I helped put Restaino office. I regret it big time, I wish I would have never helped him. It’s the worst vote I’ve ever cast.”

Mayor Robert M. Restaino

When asked to elaborate, Ernie said “Robert Restaino doesn’t care about Black people. He doesn’t care about the North End. The only time he’s been visible on the North End was when Jesse Richardson passed. Now he’s only emerging because it’s election time.”

Ernie also criticized Mayor Restaino’s proposed Centennial Park project, saying “He wants a $150 million event center but he can’t even build us a $3 million community center. In four years, he’s done nothing.”

The Mayor’s proposed amenities at Centennial Park include a wall climbing adventure course

The city’s Fourth District, commonly known as the North End; is home to a large population of Black voters. Ernie expressed his passionate belief in the political power of the North End.

Says Ernie, “Niagara Falls is so small but the Black vote is powerful. The powerful Black vote is the deciding factor in local elections, I’ve noticed that for years. That’s why I was brought in to be a part of the mayor’s campaign in 2019, and in that election the Black vote determined who won.”

Ernie continued, saying “The Black community is so aware of Restaino’s antics as a former judge. They’re also aware of his dirty political tactics using special meetings. For Mayor Restaino, the Black vote is going to be very low this election. He feels threatened that Demetreus Nix is going to draw votes from him, but Nix is a real part of our community. He’s not just showing up to take photos with Black babies. Same goes for Cain and Choolokian. Nobody ever sees Restaino in the community unless there’s a ribbon to be cut or a news camera he can smile at.”

Ernie Bivins has always dreamed of opening a comedy club in his hometown. He believes there needs to be more fun opportunities for locals and tourists in order for the city to succeed.

‘Black Ernie’ doing standup

“With the right people in office, my hometown could flourish,” says Ernie, “Investors have come in and been turned away by the local politicians. Like Kevin O’Leary from Shark Tank who moved his project to Norway. We need someone who is homegrown and who isn’t a politician. It’s sort of a slap in the face to the citizens of Niagara Falls because Restaino’s playing a game – he’s all in on his event center, but he’s done absolutely nothing during his first four years in office.”

When asked if he had anything else to say about Mayor Restaino, Ernie was quick to respond. “Yes, do not vote for this man. I regret having helped him run for mayor. Where has he been all this time? I have helped numerous judges, council members, mayors, assemblymen, governors, sheriffs, and county court judges with their campaigns in Niagara Falls. Helping Restaino was the worst political decision I’ve ever made.”

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