Niagara Falls GOP Chairman Says City Needs New Leadership

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By: Tony Farina

Buoyed by a strong turnout of over 200 people at a recent fundraiser for council, candidate John Spanbauer, Niagara Falls Republican City Chairman Bill Carroll says the GOP appears poised to answer the call for new leadership when voters go to the polls in November with two seats on the ballot.

“I’m very optimistic,” says Carroll, obviously energized by the big showing of support for Spanbauer at last Thursday’s event at the American Legion Hall on Buffalo Ave.  “People are looking for conservative financial leadership as the city faces numerous challenges, and our candidates will carry that message.”

Carroll says the current administration has ignored calls to stop using casino money to balance the city’s books and now that the casino cash has dried up, “we’ve reached the breaking point and our creditworthiness is in the toilet.”

The city’s bond rating has continued to drop due to the loss of the casino revenue sharing payments to the state, which ended in 2017.  Despite a recent arbitration panel’s order to the Seneca Nation to pay the state more $255 million to catch up, as we reported last week, it appears the Senecas may continue to challenge the ruling, saying it violates federal law.

Carroll warns as the gaming fight continues, the city’s fiscal crisis is growing and says the possible continuation of the gaming standoff coupled with the $12.2 million loan from the state the city used to balance this year’s budget means “we could be $22 million upside down next year,” adding it is time for new leadership at the local level.

Spanbauer, a former administrator at Niagara University and a college professor, is making his first run for public office and said in his announcement last month that his goal as a city lawmaker would be to focus on fiscal responsibility both in expenditures and revenues.

Spanbauer is one of three Republicans seeking to represent the party in the race for the two open council seats.  He will compete against incumbent Kenneth Tompkins and Candace Corsaro in the June 25 GOP primary for the right to face Democrats Alicia Kenyon and Donta Myles in November.  

Republican Chairman Carroll says he is confident the GOP will raise the money to carry the fight to the Democrats in November and possibly take control of the council which currently is held by Democrats by a 3 – 2 margin.   

“The two Democrats are closely tied with the existing leadership,” says Carroll, “and we need new leadership to help Niagara Falls move forward.  Our candidates will bring new ideas to city government, and I’m confident voters are ready for a change.”

Carroll praised his candidates, adding that Tompkins will receive the DeWitt Clinton award on May 1 from the Grand Lodge of New York, Order of Masons, “for demonstrating exceptional voluntary service to the community.”  The award is given annually to a non-Mason who is worthy of the honor.

The race for mayor could likely be decided in the June Democratic primary as former City Judge Robert Restaino goes head-to-head against Seth Piccirillo, the city’s community development director under outgoing Mayor Paul Dyster.  Former councilmember Glenn Choolokian will carry the GOP flag in November, although most experts regard him as a longshot at best.


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