HAMILTON: Where’s Waldo … Er, I Mean Ezra?

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By: Ken Hamilton

From all indications, by the end of the year the city may have lost the services of the bright, inquisitive, obviously ambitious, up and coming City Councilman Ezra Scott.  In fact, due to the difficulty of trying to catch up with him and find exactly what electoral plans he has, we may have already lost him.  Scott has made himself very, very scarce; so much so, that it is easier to find Waldo than it is to find Scott!

To win his first election, Scott had to wear out a pair of shoes by walking the city with a huge affable smile on his face, petitions and campaign material in his left hand, and the hands and hearts of the city’s voters in the other hand. That was tough enough to do in the warmer weather, but how ominous would it be now for upstate candidates to go door-to-door in goulashes while carrying clipboards loaded with iced-over petitions in one hand and a snow shovel in the other, he would now have to wear himself out to do so.

 So then, where is Scott?

Here’s what we do know: Scott did indeed present himself at the Niagara Falls NY Democratic City Committee seeking its endorsement for mayor. Because there would then be three mayoral candidates that were on the same committee, to subsequently and cohesively work for the surviving candidate at primary’s end, the committee chose to have an open and endorsement-free primary campaign.

With current Mayor Paul Dyster’s exiting declaration of  “three’s enough”, the Democratic mayoral campaign is known to consist of only attorney, school board member and former judge Robert Restaino, and of Director of Community Development and Code Enforcement Seth Piccirillo. Piccirillo had earlier declared that he would run for mayor whether Dyster stayed in the race or not.

But Scott would have made a very interesting entry, being – to my memory – only the 4th African-American to have taken a shot for the seat in the city’s more than 125 years of history. That list would include Renae Kimble, Norton Douglass and the always interesting Carnell Burch. But the question that everyone still asks about the normally high-profile councilman is, “Where’s Ezra?”

While the Democratic mayoral primary campaign is an open one, it still remains one that should have at least a modicum of coherence, and that should be in the committee’s chairperson, Lisa Vitello; but she said that while she knew that the other mayoral and council candidates were, “… out there following the process,” she had hoped to have had, “… more information at this time on where [Scott] was, but don’t.”

I have spoken with several of those from Buffalo and Niagara Falls whom might otherwise be considered his advisors, and they have said that they have not heard much from him themselves; but having been involved in politics for more than 40-years, that’s only what such people are apt to say anyway, though I believe it to be mostly true. They all said that they would have liked for him to have done another term as a councilman before climbing into the mayor’s chair.  He may have been well-advised to have done so, and by so doing, he might have ultimately gone much further in government as a result.

But who knows with Scott. As I had said, ambitious, smart and affable – he asks a lot of questions of a lot of diverse sources before coming to a decision. Though I didn’t support his initial run for city council, I surprisingly soon found him to be comparable in the understanding of his duties in his 3rd year to be on par with what it seemingly took long-term former Councilman Charles Walker four full terms to reach. I can only imagine the amount of good that Scott’s initially naïve but continuing improvement could have brought.

But it may not be too late.  Given some very positive opportunities and upcoming events in his personal life, now may be the time for him to echo a part of the career of former Buffalo mayor and former President Grover Cleveland by taking a break from political office and coming back a more refreshed and stable family man. And who knows, perhaps Scott can run for the council in two-years and likely win.  After all, even during Charles Walker’s first run for council and during a call-in radio show, a woman said of Charles that she would vote for him again because she thought that he did a great job during his first tenure. Those who voted for Scott in the first place are likely to vote for him again; especially because, unlike the caller who thought that Charles was actually one of his own same-last-named predecessors, Councilman Andrew Walker, people know who Ezra Scott is; and many, even now, would likely even vote for him as mayor – if only they can find him!!!


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