GUEST VIEW: City council candidates forum aims to unify

Dave Taylor

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Performing Arts Center of the Niagara Falls High School, the public will get the chance to meet and hear from the six official candidates running for three open seats on the Niagara Falls City Council.

The issues and challenges facing our city are many, and they are complex, deep-seated and long-standing. I was contacted and asked to moderate a bipartisan forum that would include the six balloted candidates running for Niagara Falls City Council. For weeks, I have worked with the organizers to create a forum that is honest, thoughtful, fair, and transparent; in order to give the most thorough coverage of the topics that are most on the minds of the residents of the city.

Having watched individual interviews with the candidates and at least two forums with all six candidates, I have been incredibly impressed with how they have handled themselves in a dignified, collaborative and respectful manner. These forums, as well as our upcoming forum, are microcosms of how individuals will handle themselves in meetings and how they will approach their job as a member of the city council. As we put the final touches on this this upcoming City Council Candidates forum, it has come to my attention that at least one individual has made the decision to run for the same post as a write-in candidate and is pushing to be included in the forum, a forum whose format has been set for weeks. The organizers have worked tirelessly to create an event with integrity and have taken meticulous care to ensure that all six candidates get equal billing and have their voice heard. Anyone running for office who is willing to make the sacrifices and serve our community is to be commended. It is at the heart of our democracy. But that doesn’t give anyone the right to bully their way into an event at the 25th hour.

The decision to run for public office is a very personal one that takes much consideration and deep reflection, and maybe even a prayer or two. It is one that I would hope no candidate would make lightly or for any purpose other than to lift up their city. It takes a mental and physical toll on the candidates and their loved ones. The campaign season is a marathon, not a sprint; the process itself is painstaking, and the steps are daunting. Candidates must strictly follow all procedures and deadlines, submit signatures, pay the filing fees, and turn in campaign finance reports. In addition, they must overcome a steep learning curve, build a campaign team, develop a winning strategy, raise monies, and get out the vote. Indeed, more than a few candidates for office have been removed from a ballot for failing to meet all of these requirements and stipulations.

Doing all of these things listed above, in my mind, signify and demonstrate a seriousness and purpose to their campaigns. We have six strong and committed candidates to consider for office. They have been pounding the pavement, meeting residents, conducting interviews and, yes, participating in forums. They have worked hard, incredibly hard; and they should be recognized and applauded for fulfilling all of these requirements and for, essentially, making it to election day. As an immediate majority on the council, this group will have the opportunity to put its stamp on the future of Niagara Falls. But make no doubt, it will take all three of them, in concert with the two incumbent city council members, to work collaboratively to set us on a course for prosperity.

In closing, people who wish to join us and meet these six amazing candidates and hear their ideas are welcome to join us next week on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center in the Niagara Falls High School.

Dave Taylor, PhD, is a Niagara University professor of criminal justice. He cares deeply about the community and lives in the Falls.

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