HAMILTON: Are Niagara Falls Republicans now the “Get Out Party?”

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By: Ken Hamilton

Perennial candidate Candace Corsaro, whom after what she calls being cheated out of a spot by her party’s chairman in the Republican primary for the 2019 city council race, has decided to take upon a write-in run for a seat.  It seems that the old Chinese curse of living in interesting times has certainly manifested itself in Niagara Falls.

Corsaro’s efforts compounds the efforts of film director and community activist Ken Cosentino, also lodging a write-in campaign for mayor, and those of independent mayoral candidate Jeffrey Elder solidly on the ballot in what Cosentino, given city residents a broader range of options in the voting booth.  

In the case of the mayoral race, it has made it into a 4-way tug of war that includes the Democratically-endorse school board member and former judge Robert Restaino,  along with the ersatz un-Republican-endorsed Glenn Choolokian, to see which of opposing candidates can successfully pull the winner into the sinkhole mud pit of the mayoralship without a clear mandate from the voters, and certainly not form the political bosses.

It all reminds me of the dilemma of

It is similar to what many years ago, and with sad eyes, when former school teacher and former Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant told me about how on a rainy day that the Grassroots branch of her Democratic Party once deliberately set her nominating petitions on a table aside from the others, but under the spot where there was a leak in the roof. It yielded her petitions largely unusable.  But she didn’t give up and eventually the store-owner went on to spend 10-years in the Erie County Legislature, a part of it as chairman, before giving it up in an unsuccessful run against the incumbent Grassroots’ Mayor Byron Brown. Now she works for the Erie County Board of Elections. Corsaro says that her Republican Party Chairman Bill Carroll has treated her in much the same way.

 In a telephone interview on the subject of her write-in campaign, Corsaro said that prior to the party’s foregone conclusive endorsement of her for the 2019 city council race in tandem with incumbent Councilman Ken Tompkins she received a telephone call from Chairman Carroll. She said that he said that he didn’t want to surprise her and asked her to drop out of the race and that he would reimburse her for all of the money that she had already spent in her campaign. She said that she asked him what the surprise might be, and later found that it was that Carroll had “… brought in and endorsed city council Republican candidate John Spanbauer of Niagara University instead.

Like the old southern saying goes, and it is about both Buffalo’s Grant and Niagara’s Corsaro, Corsaro was “… as mad as a wet hen!”

In a follow-up email on the subject, Corsaro, who said that the basis of her campaign was for good budgeting and public safety, ensuring that the 13-laid-off police patrolmen’s jobs could be restored, she said, “Let the truth be told:”

Cleaning up the grammar and structure a bit, Corsaro said that in the Niagara Gazette article on the Republican committee’s endorsements that, “Our Niagara Falls Republican Chairman Bill Carroll stated that the party was NOT sure if they were going to endorse a Republican candidate Glenn Choolokian.” But she went on to say that, “That is a right out lie, Mr. Carroll. You stood up in front of the GOP of Niagara County meeting in Wheatfield and said that NF will be endorsing Robert Restaino, a Democrat.”

Corsaro further went on to write, “Lets lay it all out: You [Carroll] also called me and tried to get me to drop out of the race and asked how much I had spent so far so you could reimburse me. WHY? Because people don’t know me or are you afraid [that] I would win with Kenny? You also did the same with another female Candidate in the past. But gee, everyone is too afraid to speak up and tell the truth. Well, I AM NOT.”

As if there wasn’t already enough feet-to-the-flames heat on Carroll’s toes, Corsaro further went on to say, “You also told me that you were going to have Mike Gawel drop out (I’m sure because at this time you had Spanbauer in the works).”

Oh, yeah; and then she did go there by writing, “Are YOU against women in a Pollical figure?”

Corsaro continues, “So we would NOT have a Primary. Then you tell me you brought in Spanbauer (Spanbauer says differently and I believe John)”.

Corsaro said that she was dismayed to discover that during the petition-passing process that some of her campaign material was missing. in the email that she sent me She asks of Carroll, “OH …Which of the committee members also removed my palm card form our blitz?  Then when I asked you about it you told me you were trying something new, and guessed it didn’t work out.  Gee I have a guess. What happened [was] that Lockport received an empty envelope from a primary polling place [and] had to call Dorothy and questioned it; then it showed up?? I smell a rat and it is not her.”

At this point in Corsaro’s email she joins the Cosentino contention. She writes, “This is Corruption at its BEST and unfortunately the voters fall for it.” 

 “One thing about Candidates,” Corsaro writes when speaking of non-perennial candidates, “YOU DONT SEE THEM ALL YEAR LONG, they don’t attend council meetings, they don’t fight for us, attend functions all year long until they become a candidate.” An argument that I have long made about the mostly perennially novice city council.  

Finally, in echoes of the Truman ‘giv’em hell, Harry chant,” Corsaro seemingly writes to the voters in her closing statement, “YES I am a candidate for City Council as a write-in. No, I’m not bitter or a whistleblower, just TIRED of the Corruption. Where is the Loyalty to our party? NY may as well eliminate all parties and move on to a general election for one and all. The people complain we are the same over and over; well then, get up off your butts and run.”

In all that Corsaro is saying, one could easily come to the conclusion that “GOP” has come to mean Get Out of Party” for some candidates – apparently, Corsaro is one of them. But if Corsaro takes solace in what Buffalo’s Grant went through and did, then she needs to hang in there, as, if what Corsaro says is true, Democrats also do that same things to each other.

Corsaro said in a telephone call that she has filed paperwork for a formal complaint on Carroll with the New York State board of Elections. 

Carroll, Spanbauer and Choolokian have all been called for their statements, but have yet to respond.


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