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TOMPKINS: Election Time

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By: Kenny Tompkins

Niagara Falls City Councilman

As most of you know, it’s time for me to run for re-election for City Council. This year, there are several people who have tossed their hats in the ring for one of the two seats on the ballot. I hope that my record and community involvement are enough to earn your vote so I can continue to represent all of the people of Niagara Falls.

While most people are aware of the race, few understand the work that goes into getting a candidate’s name on the ballot. I’d like to clarify how this works, so that everyone has a better understanding of the election process. 

Once you’ve decided to run, the first step is to reach out to the party chair people and let them know your intent to be a candidate for a particular office. Once this is complete, you need to register with New York State to receive an ID number that will be attached to your campaign bank account and any official records so your campaign financial activity can be monitored. 

Expressing your intent to a party doesn’t guarantee you have their full support. Most parties require candidates to present before their committees to ask for their endorsement. There are no guarantees that you will receive a nod, regardless of whether you are registered with that party. In fact, there are many variables committees use to decide which candidates they back. I am grateful to have been endorsed pre-primary by three different parties. 

The next step is absolutely vital, and also why I am writing this article: Petitions.

Each party has a specific number of signatures from registered members of that party that a candidate must obtain to be on the ballot. This is why we have all been walking and knocking on your doors this past week. We will continue passing petitions for the next few weeks. Yes, this is earlier than before, since NYS moved the primaries up from September to June. The primary is the first election of the season, in which each of the respective party’s members determine which candidates make it to the November election on the party lines. Think of it this way. Getting on the ballot for the primaries is like advancing to the final four in March Madness. Winning a primary election is like advancing to the championship game.

Please remember that signing a petition is not a vote for or even a statement that you’re supporting that individual. It is simply allowing them to complete the steps to get on the ballot for the primary. I have great respect for all that try to run. I know how hard it is on themselves and their families. 

After petitions are filed and verified, your name will be placed on the primary ballot. At this time, we will usually knock on doors to introduce ourselves to the people, explain our platforms, and ask for their vote at the polls. 

After the primary is when you will see the most action from those who win the party races. We knock on all doors again to reacquaint ourselves with the voters. Getting people interested and out to the polls in November is always a challenge, which is why every candidate has to make sure enough people hear his or her message. 

This year is a big year for Niagara Falls! We have a mayoral race, two council seats, and all four legislative seats up for re-election. My advice is to get to know each of the candidates. Ask questions when they come to your door. I personally know them all and know they all have good intentions or they wouldn’t be attempting this. 

I hope this clears things up a bit and helps get folks to answer the door when we come knocking. Your signature is important and come June and November, I hope I am one of your choices on the ballot.


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