Niagara Gazette

January 5, 2014

City council post changes hands

By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — The Niagara Falls City Council will have a new confidential secretary this year.

Ryan Undercoffer is slated to take the position from retiring confidential secretary Kevin Ormsby, according to a resolution from Chairman Charles Walker, Councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti and Councilman Andrew Touma on the agenda for Monday’s council meeting.

Walker said Undercoffer, who holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University at Buffalo, is a talented candidate who “deserves a shot” as confidential secretary.

Undercoffer has been involved in Democratic politics in the city for the last several years, serving as the vice chair of the city’s Democratic committee in 2012 and vice chair for the county Democrats in 2013.

The Niagara County Democratic Committee sent out campaign mailers and radio and print advertisements on behalf of Walker, Grandinetti and Touma during their fall campaigns.

Walker said that Undercoffer’s nomination for the position has nothing to do with his political ties to the three council members describing any work Undercoffer did as “behind the scenes.”

Undercoffer was nominated because he is young, qualified and expressed interest in the position, Walker said.

“We were looking for someone who can help bring the council into the 21st century,” he added.

Undercoffer’s salary is not set at this point, but will be somewhere around the $46,180 that was established in the 2014 budget.

“That’s something we’ll be discussing over the next two to three days,” Walker said.

Undercoffer, 24, began working toward a doctorate in political science from Syracuse University last year, but has taken an indefinite leave of absence to work in Niagara Falls.

Undercoffer, who plans to stay on as vice chair for the county Democrats, said he did not do much work this election cycle on the campaigns of the three council members.

“A lot of the work I did was with the county legislators,” he said.

Undercoffer, a Falls native, said he hopes he will be able to help the council keep the city moving in a positive direction.

“Things are changing in Niagara Falls and I want to be a part of it,” he said.

Undercoffer hopes that all council members, including Councilman Glenn Choolokian and Councilman Robert Anderson Jr. who appointed Ormsby to the position last year, will work with him in creating a more unified council than in year’s past.

“I want to serve a well-functioning council,” he said.

Choolokian did not return a call seeking comment Friday afternoon.

Undercoffer said he has not explored any plans to implement new technologies into the city council office, being that he does not yet have the position.

“I don’t have a set agenda for social media at this point,” he said. “But it certainly could be beneficial to the office.”

Contact reporter Justin Sondel at 282-2311, ext. 2257