Democratic candidate for mayor Demetreus Nix is officially back on the ballot. Nix has overcome unfathomable adversity during his campaign, including the tragic loss of a child. Nothing has stopped him from pursuing his goal of running for mayor, because his ambition is driven out of necessity.
His latest challenge came from an individual named James Dean, whom Nix believes was encouraged to challenge him by Mayor Robert Restaino.
The Reporter asked Nix how he felt after the court ruled in his favor on Tuesday.
“It’s a good feeling!” said Nix, whose petitions were challenged and initially dismissed by the Niagara County Board of Elections due to an “insufficient amount of valid signatures.”
Nix was registering new voters while they were simultaneously signing his petitions, a perfectly legal practice and smart strategy.
The city of Niagara Falls often experiences very low voter turnout for mayoral elections, and Nix knows that it’s time for younger generations to get involved.
Says Nix, “Us taking them to court, they had to produce everything. You should see it. I’m like ‘how are they doing this?’ Now I’ve got to read all 500 plus voters and sign them all up again because they were made inactive. If I hadn’t done this, I wouldn’t have known until the day of the election.”
In April, Niagara County Attorney Claude Joerg told the Niagara Gazette that “799 signatures filed on Mr. Nix’s petition, and the specifications listed a total of 523 objections. The board found only 341 of those objections to be true. That left Mr. Nix with 458 valid signatures and he needed 500 to qualify.”
According to Joseph Genco of the Niagara Express, “More than 263 signatures were deemed unacceptable out of 799 collected, leaving [Nix] 16 short.” It was these 16 votes that Nix needed to verify with signed affidavits, and today the judge found that he did so successfully. It is uncertain as to why this number varies from the number given by Joerg.
The fact of the matter comes down to the signatures being invalidated because they weren’t signed in cursive, and were printed instead. This is an archaic law with racist undertones aimed at disqualifying voters who never learned how to write in cursive. Even if he doesn’t win, Nix’s campaign is certainly exposing flaws in the election system that require addressing.
“It’s the Democratic Committee who are doing this,” says Nix. “We had four or five different issues that were voter disenfranchising. It was all the mayor, once we got past the mayor and we got to the court, we had no problem.” When asked about the requirement for cursive signatures, Nix said, “Man, we’ve been going through this forever. How many bubbles is in a bar of soap was a voter question fifty years ago!”
Nix continued, “We got served by James Dean. I had to find out who he was when we challenged it. They only have three days to challenge you, and you only have three days to file a suit against them.”
Nix says he then sought out James Dean so that he could serve him personally with his lawsuit. “When I got there, he was on the phone yelling ‘Nix is at my house! You brought him to my house!’ I think he was on the phone with the mayor. Who else sent him?”
After that, things got ugly.
Says Nix, “When I took a picture of his license plate, he pushed forward and hit me with his car. He didn’t try to kill me, so I called the police, filed a report, went to the hospital, and I was good. I’ve been getting hit my whole life.”
Indeed, the challenge and subsequent public shaming of Nix’s petition strategy ended up being fruitless. Nix is no stranger to obstacles, and he had a message for Mayor Restaino,
“For years, he has attacked and abused and overlooked people like me. And those who he felt didn’t matter. When I came to him years ago he treated me like I didn’t exist. Now he knows and I want him to know WE are coming. Not just me. WE are coming and WE will not stop. WE are bringing awareness to these issues and it’s time for Niagara Falls to change.”
When asked about his experience running for mayor of Niagara Falls, Nix said “Man, it’s like being in an Avengers movie. Every time there’s a new bad guy that the main bad guy is sending to do his dirty work. I have to keep fighting off these bad guys to get to the main one and that’s Mayor Restaino. He’s Thanos.”
Nix continued, “It’s not any different than the mayor calling the cops and getting me arrested with a crime so that he can put something against me… but I’m not going to stop. The mayor will have no more fights after this. You already put me in jail, everyone knows about that. You already challenged me and I won.”