Time for Voters to Weigh in on Niagara Falls Future

By Tony Farina

Election day is within sight (Tuesday) and there is a lot at stake in Niagara Falls for voters to consider, not the least of which is trying to keep the city in balance and not surrendering to the mysterious agenda of the incumbent mayor, Robert Restaino, who wants to control everything from his desk at city hall with little tolerance for opposing views.

Retired Deputy Police Chief Carlton Cain, incumbent Councilmember Vincent Cauley, and CPA Michael Gawel, three Republicans, have put their agenda before the people, with crime, empty promises from Mayor Restaino, and a development impasse on competing projects as issues for voters to consider.

Cain wants to return power to the people, build transparency where possible, and re-establish a relationship between the mayor and city lawmakers so government can operate more like a democracy and less like a dictatorship.

Carl Cain

The former cop is concerned about rampant crime and pledges to put the police and the people on the same page, which he has found is not the case during his door-to-door campaigning. Cain is a builder and wants to establish relationships between the police and the citizens.

Cauley, who is serving on the council by appointment, wants to win his own four-year term and Gawel, the CPA who shined brightly during the recent council candidate debate, is in step with Cain and Cauley on building transparency and ending special sessions currently held by the mayor, not exactly open government.

Mayor Restaino continues to push his unfunded $150-million events center plan (Centennial Park) while keeping secret where he would get the money to pay for the John Daly Blvd. parcel, his apparent first choice for his project if he’s successful in seizing it via eminent domain from NFR, and then finding the money to build it.

As for NFR, it is standing firm with its Toronto-based development partner to build a $1.5 billion, privately-financed digital campus that would bring 500 high-tech jobs to Niagara Falls and have an economic impact, including wages, of $250 million annually.  All at NO cost to taxpayers.

It appears that the Republican candidates are at least willing to hear more on a possible two-project solution with Gawel stating clearly at the debate that there are many questions that need to be looked into before any final decisions are reached.

NFR has said a two-project solution may be possible providing residents with an arena and a park, the mayor’s plan, and a privately-funded state of the art digital campus and all the economic benefits it brings.  Of course a roundtable discussion is needed to bring the parties on a go-forward path that would be total win for the city.

Now, much of the path forward rests with the voters.


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