Restaino’s Alliance with the Conservative Party May Have Secured Win
Democrat Mayor Robert Restaino has a small lead over Republican Carl Cain in the hotly contested Niagara Falls mayoral election.
As of press time, Restaino leads by slightly over 200 votes, with affidavit and absentee ballots yet to be counted.
The race could still go either way, but for Cain to win, he would have to pick up a significantly higher percentage of outstanding ballots to offset Restaino’s lead.
According to unofficial totals from the Niagara County Board of Elections, Restaino garnered 3,455 votes, with Cain trailing behind at 3,253.
This narrow lead puts Restaino at 48.3% of the vote, compared to Cain’s 45.5%.
Independent candidate Demetrius Nix, who ran under his ‘We All We Got’ party line, secured 276 votes, making up 3.8% of the total of 7140 votes cast at polling places in the mayoral race.
Despite his election not being officially called, Restaino made a victory speech attributing his win to the collective efforts and hard work of his team, stating, “We set out to show the county that Democrats can win and govern.”
Restaino, who received less than 50 percent of votes cast, failed to credit what is probably the reason he leads.
The incumbent Democrat mayor did not receive as many votes from his party as his Republican counterpart did from his.
Restaino’s plurality of 200+ votes comes from the 563 votes he got on the Conservative Party line – a figure more than twice the difference between him and Cain.
This odd alliance between a Democrat and the Conservative Party underscores complex dynamics in local politics, where party bosses can override party principles.
The Conservative Party stands in staunch opposition to many of the Democratic Party’s principles. Yet Restaino was able to play to both ends. It remains unclear why local Conservative Party bosses chose Restaino over the Republican candidate Cain.
Niagara Falls Republican Party Chairman Bill Carroll expressed disappointment at the low voter turnout, but praised Cain for running a strong campaign and staying on message.
The Democratic Party also made gains on the city council, securing a majority.
Voters elected two new Democrats, Brian Archie and James Perry, to the Falls City Council, defeating incumbent Republican Council Member Vincent Cauley and former Republican City Council Member Michael Gawel.
The City Council will now hold a 3-2 Democratic majority, with senior Democrat Donta Myles potentially appointed chairman.
Republicans Traci Bax and David Zajac, and new council members Archie and Perry will need to enlist Myles’s support for planned initiatives.
Myles could play a pivotal role in fostering bipartisan collaboration and progress in Niagara Falls.
As chairman, Myles could implement transparency and accountability measures, ensuring that Mayor Restaino, if he hangs on to his lead, fulfills the fiscally conservative commitments implied in securing the Conservative endorsement.
Myles, unlike some of his council predecessors, was willing to demand accountability from Restaino, who balked at disclosing the amount of money he spent on outside lawyers to pursue his Restaino legacy Centennial Park.
In an astonishing dereliction of council duties, the majority of the council accepted Restaino’s bold bluff that the council wasn’t entitled to know expenditures until he chose to reveal them.
New York State law states that the council is not only entitled to know expenditures, but also every expenditure by the mayor in advance.
Only Myles, and outgoing council member Cauley, seemed to know the law and Restaino, by using special council meetings, was able to avoid revealing how many millions he spent on his legacy Centennial Park project.
Both new council members may become reasonable allies to Myles in his quest for transparency at City Hall, and aid in providing the essential checks and balances of the council should Restaino get reelected.
Archie told the Reporter that he did not support Restaino’s frequent use of special meetings, which effectively censor public input on his agendas.
Archie called it “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.”
They did. Archie had the highest vote total of the four council candidates.