Niagara Falls Mayoral Debate Summary

Hey flock! Tonight was the Niagara Falls Mayoral debate, and of course I was there.

Niagara Falls 2019 Mayoral Debate crowd at Niagara Falls Public Library. October 22, 2019
It was a packed house in the Niagara Falls Public Library

For those of you that didn’t see the debate, or don’t have time to sit through the 1-hour livestream on the Niagara Gazette Facebook page, I’ve taken the courtesy of breaking down the major questions. Please note that some questions have been omitted or combined, as many of the answers were the same.

But first, let’s take a brief look at our candidates.

From left: Glenn Choolokian, Jeffrey Elder & Robert Restaino at the Niagara Falls Mayoral Debate. Niagara Falls Public Library.
Choolokian, Elder and Restaino were ready for this debate.

Glenn Choolokian

  • Republican candidate.
  • 32 years experience.
  • Niagara Falls Water Board and former two-term City Councilman.

Jeffrey Elder

  • Independent “Dynamic New Future” candidate.
  • 27 years served in Air Force.
  • Also worked for Pentagon, FEMA and State Department.
  • LaSalle High School graduate.

Robert Restaino

  • Democratic candidate.
  • 35 years experience in law practice.
  • Former judge.
  • Niagara Falls Board of Education President

What is the primary concern of your campaign?

Choolokian:

Trimming budget. Bringing in new technology, methods and equipment to reduce cost. Work harder to cut crime. “Removing the little aggravations out of your life”

Elder:

Ensure everyone in the city (both residents and tourists) feels safe. Increase police presence. Build community-police relations.

Restaino:

Solve the $10 million structural deficit in city budget. Increase government transparency.

Would you directly negotiate with the Senecas over the casino revenue stalemate?

Choolokian:

Cannot interfere with State contract by law. Can create side deals to fund police and community development.

Elder:

Senecas must pay for services (fire, police etc.) Bring them to the table.

Restaino:

Already in talks with Senecas to do business in relation to funding.

How would you promote economic development?

Choolokian:

Current system treats different developers different ways. Streamline system. Help developers from beginning to end.

Elder:

Separate genuine developers from cash grabs. Provide equal opportunity to all genuine development ideas.

Restaino:

Create a Group Project Manager in City Hall to assist developers through the entire process.

Are reassessments on the table?

Choolokian:

Nobody is ever for reassessments. We need to spend the money we have wisely.

Elder:

Citizens do not complain about taxes if they feel they are receiving service.

Restaino:

Reassessments will not solve the budget issue.

How do we handle Niagara Falls Redevelopment’s inactivity on their properties?

Choolokian:

If NFR does not develop land, city should look into how to get land into the hands of developers.

Elder:

Utilize land around gorge. Build up region with attractions. Consider options with NFR.

Restaino:

Fighting NFR not the solution. Create partnerships. Determine intent of NFR, utilize Niagara County laws if necessary.

How would you combat housing blight and code enforcement?

Choolokian:

Update City laws. Crack down on land-grabbing and slumlord loopholes.

Elder:

Make sure houses are up to code. City can take care of minor maintenance (lawn care/snow removal) and bill house owner if property is neglected.

Restaino:

Strong leadership in Code Enforcement to strengthen department.

What should be done about the current Niagara Falls Public Library (where this debate was held)?

Choolokian:

Demolish library. Move to and expand Carnegie Building (former library).

Elder:

Look into price of demolition.

Restaino:

Look for a new location. Library maintenance cost to severe.

Are the costs of City Personnel too high?

Choolokian:

City needs more workers. Only 212 city workers currently on payroll. Cut overtime and coordinate schedule.

Elder:

Make sure employees are matched with jobs they are trained for. Trim overtime and wasted work.

Restaino:

Ensure workforce is being deployed properly to maximize results.

What can be done about all the dead trees in the city?

Choolokian:

“Cut down the trees. It’s not that hard.”

Elder:

Bring in State government to clean up chemical waster in Niagara improving ecosystem.

Restaino:

Fix city budget. Look for grants for the dead trees.

With the removal of the Robert Moses Parkway, should the gorge be developed?

Choolokian:

The entire parkway should have been removed. Work with what we have now.

Elder:

Ensure proper investment into area.

Restaino:

Do not build structures on gorge rim. Increase development near Main Street behind gorge area.

Is shared services an option?

Choolokian:

Union regulations make sharing employees across city lines difficult. Share supplies. Purchase new technology and equipment that can be rented to other municipalities.

Elder:

Consider shifting trash collection to Department of Public Works. Keep funds within city.

Restaino:

Promote collaborative government. Shared supply purchasing.

What can be done about the Niagara Falls Train Station vacancy issues?

Choolokian:

Bring developers to train station.

Elder:

Increase tourist knowledge of station. Revitalize gorge and Main Street corridor around station.

Restaino:

Work with what we have to continue development in station.

Should Niagara Falls be under a control board?

Choolokian:

Control board would increase taxes.

Elder:

Work within our means. Effective leadership repair city issues.

Restaino:

Control boards cannot make dramatic changes due to current city contracts. They would be ineffective.

What is the city’s best asset?

Choolokian:

Residents. Small business owners.

Elder:

Niagara Falls is recognized worldwide. Utilize this fame.

Restaino:

Residents. World popularity of the Falls themselves.

Bonus: Sheepie’s favorite quotes from the debate:

Choolokian:

You can’t lie on the internet.

Do you need a pothole filled? I’ll fill it. Need a tree cut down? I’ll cut down that tree.

Elder:

We used to have the Festival of Lights. We used to have the Wintergarden. Everyone that had their wedding here took pictures in the Wintergarden.

Restaino:

We can’t rewind the clock back to 1940.

That’s it for tonight, flock! Remember to go out and vote Tuesday, November 5. The future of Niagara depends on you!

-Sheepie ❤

2 thoughts on “Niagara Falls Mayoral Debate Summary

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