Niagara Gazette

October 20, 2013

Fruscione will continue to campaign on Conservative, Independent lines

By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — City Councilman Sam Fruscione is down but he’s not out.

Fruscione, who was the odd man out in the four-way Sept. 10 primary for three Democratic lines in the upcoming general election, has begun revving up his campaign again sticking out the race on the Conservative and Independence party lines.

Fruscione has two billboard advertisements up on Pine Avenue and Hyde Park Boulevard in which he appears with Republican candidate Russel Vesci and Councilman Robert Anderson Jr., who is supporting the two candidates in the election.

“This is going to be like a regular campaign,” Fruscione said.

The two-term councilman said he thinks he will fare better in the Nov. 5 general election with a wider swath of city voters able to punch ballots.

“If you follow any of my elections from the past I draw from the Republicans and the Conservatives,” he said.

Fruscione enjoyed endorsements from the Conservative and Independence parties in his previous bids, something that helped him secure his seat on the council.

“My voting base is a lot broader than the average person’s so I hope they come out,” Fruscione said.

Fruscione will run against incumbents Kristen Grandinetti and Charles Walker who, along with newcomer Andrew Touma, won the three available Democratic lines in the primary.

On the Republican lines will be Vincent Sandonato, Vesci and Robert Elder, who recently announced that he would no longer actively campaign.

Fruscione said that with three Republicans on the ballot there will be an opportunity to get votes from more moderate Democrats, who may not have made it out for the primary.

“All you had was the Democrats that are staunch Democrats come out,” Fruscione said.

Fruscione’s loss in the primary followed controversy surrounding a $25 million downtown hotel project that he, Council Chairman Glenn Choolokian and Anderson refused to approve, tabling a development agreement between the city, state and development firm selected as part of a state procurement process — Hamister Group — while they questioned the merits of the deal.

After intense political pressure from state leaders Anderson provided a third vote, joining Grandinetti and Walker in approving the development agreement and construction on the project is expected to begin next year.

A political mailer was circulated in the city in support of Fruscione’s campaign lauding him for asking “tough questions” and depicting developer Mark Hamister as a con man aiming to fleece taxpayers in Niagara Falls.

The mailer, which was distributed by the political action committee WNY Progressive Caucus, drew scrutiny from the press and Fruscione accused the media of working to smear him when conceding on primary night.

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