Niagara Gazette

September 11, 2013

Voters sound off on negative campaigning in Falls

Staff Reports
Niagara Gazette

Throughout the day Tuesday, voters made their way to polling places throughout the city to vote on the Niagara Falls City Council race.

Sharon MacDougall, a social worker who has lived in the city for 12 years, declined to reveal who she was voting for, but said that all the negative campaigning had swayed her vote.

"I've been really disappointed by the mailers," MacDougall said. "In fact, if they were meant to sway me to vote one way they swayed me to vote the complete opposite way because they've been rather dirty politic mailers."

Rick Huntsman, a sales representative for a freight company, said he was not sure who he would vote for before entering Maple Avenue School to vote Tuesday evening.

Huntsman, 53, is a life-long city resident. He said that while he saw some of the political mud slinging this primary has been more civil than years past.

"It hasn't been that bad," Huntsman said. "Usually you get a lot of slams and slurs, but it hasn't been bad this year. A little bit but that's expected."

Jennifer Tiberi voted at the John Duke Senior Center.

Tiberi, a teaching assistant at a charter school, revealed one of the candidates she had voted for.

"I voted for Sam Fruscione," Jennifer said. "He's done a lot."

Tiberi said she too had received negative campaign mailers.

"it's ridiculous," Tiberi said.

Mailers targeting Fruscione focused on his vote to table a proposed downtown hotel deal while he and his colleagues - Council Chairman Glenn Choolokian and Councilman Robert Anderson Jr. - Ask questions of the state economic development agency USA Niagara Development Corp. and the developer.

USA Niagara is the lead agency on a state procurement process for the development of a city-owned parcel has negotiated the terms of a deal that would see developer Hamister Group get the land and a $2.75 million state grant in exchange for a proposed $25 million mixed-use building with the company providing the remaining investment.

Mark Hamister, the company's chairman and CEO, was targeted by a mailer distributed by a political action committee called Western New York Progressive Caucus. The mailer characterized the developer as a con man on one side and lauded Fruscione for tabling and asking questions about the development deal on the other side.

Mailers targeting Fruscione accused him of holding up progress on the hotel deal, working to give out patronage jobs to friends and bashed the councilman for selling merchandise depicting former Western New York crime boss Stefano Magaddino.

Mailers targeting Grandinetti accuse her of voting in lock step with Mayor Paul Dyster political agenda and outlining what the councilwoman maintains was an accounting mistake that led to her being overpaid as part of the city's health insurance buy out program calling it a scam. Grandinetti has been repaying the city since the overpayment came to light.