NIAGARA MAYORAL RACE: And Then Jeffrey Elders Makes Four?

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By: Ken Hamilton

When Fran Met Tim

The then-incumbent Democrat Francine Delmonte had run against and defeated Republican Town of Wheatfield Supervisor Timothy Demler in the 138th Assembly Race of 2002.  But when the votes were officially counted, both were upset with me, each having thought that I had voted for the other, and for the next few months I no longer counted to either. Seventeen years later, with the mayoral race of 2019, I think that I might find myself in a similar predicament.

In the Delmonte-Demler race, I complained to then-Senator George Maziarz that I generally am not particularly a fan of the Democrat’s politics, but Delmonte always returns my calls; and while I like Demler’s politics, he never returns any. Maziarz responded, “Don’t worry, he never returns mine either!” Because I personally liked each a lot, when I went into the polls I couldn’t choose between them and skipped voting for either. Now I fear that 2002 will replay itself in terms of the mayoral race where the four potential candidates, all of which are desirable, and of all I believe I could easily work to get good things done.

They are, in alphabetical order, former City Councilman Glenn Choolokian, Community Development Director Seth Piccirillo, and Board of Education member attorney Robert Restaino.  And there is also what is politically considered to be a dark horse in the race: independently-running candidate and African-American, USAF veteran Jeffrey Elders.


A Band of Associates

After a meeting with then-Councilman Choolokian, he was quickly able to get north Main Street designated as an Entertainment Zone with enhanced inspection powers to clean the area in preparation of developers exploring the placement of a National Comedy Hall of Fame.  

Likewise, years after the success with the Legends Park project, I met with Piccirillo to discuss taking the planned inline hockey rink from Legends and making a full-scale skate board park in the Hyde Park-area. I was amazed at how quickly he got the job done.

And when I introduced the concept of an “International” theme for the Kalfas Magnet School, board member Restaino asked the only affirming question about it.  The program is effectively moving forward.

Elders’ Method to “Make it Happen”

Elders, whom like myself, is a veteran, which I like. His campaign indicates that he is a nuance-thinker. But his independent campaign and the likelihood of establishing his own party are usually considered a fool’s errand and is almost impossible to make happen. 

Elders’ text message response to my request for a statement simply said that, “I have told your representatives that I have no comments at this time. When the time comes I will let you know.” I thanked him for it, and then did some additional research.

There is a provision in NYS Election Law found at: for running independent petitions after the deadline for established party petitions. In brief, the site says, “To run for office on a line other than an official party line, one must file an independent nominating petition. (…) Any registered voter who has not already signed a designating petition, and who is qualified to vote for an office, may sign an independent nominating petition for that office.”

I am not sure whose political race Elders’ run will hurt or help the most; or if by some fluke of nature he can actually win. Both Presidents Carter and Trump proves that miracles happen.  Nonetheless, he adds even more interest to an already series of interesting races; and if successful in getting the prerequisite number of signatures, Elders at least assures himself of being somewhere on the ballot. His race is likely a future template of more to come. 

And Then There Were Four? 

Seemingly, at the very least, the race to captain the Titanic is now full speed ahead. Now I wonder how Fran and Tim are getting along 17-years later. I still like both of them. What a predicament!


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