Restaino wins tight race
Niagara Falls election results came out about as expected.
Mayor Robert Restaino won four more years by a narrow margin of 3,455-3,253 over challenger Carl Cain. Demetreus Nix pulled 276 votes, more than the margin between Restaino and Cain.
In council races, Brian Archie pulled 3,858 votes. Jim Perry had 3,125. Incumbent Vincent Cauley had 2,950. Mike Gawel had 2203.
Other minor party candidates were Uniquia Lewis, 309; Mike Murphy Jr. 260 and Jennifer Marie Lamoy, 248.
City Democrats had a difficult choice in the mayoral race: support the temperamental incumbent who was a big favorite thanks to support from the Italian American community as well as police, fire and steelworkers union, or throw support behind a different candidate like Glenn Choolokian who ran in the primary.
The council in January becomes a bit more challenging for the Mayor.
He will no longer face questions on every issue from Cauley. He also loses the pragmatic Kenny Tompkins who seemed to have a solid understanding of every issue.
The new council chair will likely be Donta Myles, who has stood firmly in his belief the government should serve the whole community and has spoke up repeatedly against Centennial Park as well as wondering why Sal Maglie Stadium isn’t open more often.
Restaino over the last year repeatedly called special meetings which enabled him to do business with the council without facing public comment.
Archie is a community organized who is likely to stand with Myles and represent all of the city,
Perry has experience in the military, in human resources and with the water board. The council has been hands off with the water board, but sewer and water fees in Niagara Falls are out of control and getting worse. It will be interesting to see if he finds a way to use his new post to start a conversation with Sen. Chuck Schumer or Rep. Brian Higgins about funding for a new wastewater treatment plant.
What the vote means for Centennial Park, the $150 million event center Restaino has proposed adjacent to the casino a half mile from the entertainment district is uncertain, especially when more than $1 million in legal fees have likely been spent on eminent domain proceedings without any feasibility study.
It’s hard to imagine Archie supporting the project. Ditto Myles.
How Perry, David Zajac and Traci Bax will vote remains to be seen.
Speculation is Zajac’s political mentors, including former Republican chairman Henry Wojtaszek stand against Centennial Park.
Even if $150 million falls from the sky, the legacy costs of Centennial Park are onerous.
The fate of Niagara Falls Redevelopment’s Urbacon Data Center, proposed for the same site as Centennial Park, remains uncertain. The site is not zoned appropriately for the project. NFR seems to have mostly invested in public relations so far but has not asked the city to rezone the parcel.
The city remains trapped in a cycle of poverty with pot-hole riddled streets lined with far too many boarded up home and state parks perfectly happy to hold all its tax-free waterfront, 9 million visitors and parking revenue.
In District 3 of the County Legislature, Christopher McKimmiee defeated Noelle Citarella, 1407-1211. In District 6, Christopher Voccio won reelection over Gaelan Baillie 932 to 562.