Niagara Gazette

Local News

December 28, 2013

TOP STORIES (4): Niagara Falls City Council race gets a lot of attention

Niagara Gazette — It’s not out of the ordinary for waves to be made during election cycles in the City of Niagara Falls. 

The 2013 campaign season stood out as a year in which the ripples reached all the way to the highest office in Albany. 

Amid an ongoing controversy about the future of a high-profile downtown hotel project, and just days before city voters were slated to go to the polls, Gov. Andrew Cuomo publicly offered his support to the candidacies of incumbent Democrats Kristen Grandinetti and Charles Walker, as well as political newcomer and Niagara Falls school teacher Andrew Touma. 

“Niagara Falls has an important decision to make,” Cuomo said in a statement released in late-October. “And I believe that Kristen Grandinetti, Andy Touma, and Charles Walker have shown that they share a clear vision for their city. Tourism is a major component of our economic plans for Western New York and Niagara Falls needs elected officials committed to capitalizing on the city’s many strengths to generate jobs and economic growth.”

While how much of an impact Cuomo’s endorsement had on the race is debatable, what’s not is the outcome of the race itself. 

Grandinetti, Walker and Touma swept into office, signaling the end of the line for incumbent city lawmaker Sam Fruscione. The former council chairman, who ran fourth in the Democratic primary in September, stayed in the race through the general election, finishing sixth in a field that included seven candidates in all. 

While several issues played a role in the outcome, the weeks leading up to election day were dominated by the controversy surrounding the Hamister hotel deal. Fruscione joined fellow council majority members Robert Anderson Jr. and Glenn Choolokian in delaying action on a proposed agreement with the Buffalo-based developer, expressing concerns about the terms of the proposed deal and its potential impact on Falls taxpayers. 

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