Being a city councilman for the past six years has given me many opportunities to help people and the city I love in ways I would not have had otherwise. My purpose in running for office was to try and help Niagara Falls be rebuilt into a home to be proud of, one that we can all feel safe in.
As a Republican I have been able to work beside and achieve a lot of good with the help of many incredibly talented, hardworking, dedicated and intelligent people in all political parties. I have often said my political affiliation is the city of Niagara Falls because my focus has always been to help the city. Has it been a struggle every step of the way? Absolutely! The criticism, although it comes with the territory, can be dispiriting to say the least. Being called all kinds of things ranging from a sell-out to a liar, and much more is an impactful component of that struggle. What people do not seem to understand is they are only viewing a small part of the big picture and decisions are not always as clear as a yes or no answer. Each carries its own burden of consequences and sometimes neither is the best answer. However, I have and will always consider the best interests of all the city in every decision I make, no matter how difficult or unpopular it may be.
Watching the nightly news over the last year and especially after the events of Jan. 6, has really affected my conscience. The United States of America was built upon different views and strengths meant to work together to expand and protect our nation. Our nation is a body of people, all different parts of varying sizes yet all equally important. Why cut off one arm just to spite the other? When it comes to carrying the heavy loads, which most of us can relate to having to bear, is it possible to successfully lift anything of a substantial size with a missing limb? Perhaps, for a short time. Yet the reality is, help will eventually still be needed in some way or another.
Our nation has become increasingly divided, to the point where lifelong friends who have stood by each other through personal trials and tribulations have now drawn a line of separation. I am watching friends of 30-plus years stand on opposite sides looking at one another with disdain or even worse hate, all because of conflicting political views and parties. Panic and survival modes are becoming the norm in our society. I see good people feel they have the need to hoard food, water, ammunition, and generators. Bulletproof vests and riot gear have become a part of their wardrobe. This being the result of one side blaming the other and it truly pains me to see that we as Americans have allowed ourselves to get to this point.
We now seem farther away from the possibility of unity because of the division among citizens, and not just along political lines. I have seen so many people simply vote along party lines without really addressing the issue. A trip through recent history will show elected leaders were not doing what was best for their constituents, rather, they were doing what was best for their party. This can easily be seen in local, state and federal governments.
With all being said, so that I continue to remain true to the citizens I represent and what I have always believed, I have initiated a major change with the Board of Elections. I will continue my work and efforts as an elected official; however, it will no longer be with the Republican affiliation. I have dropped the “R” next to my name and am now officially Unaffiliated.
Seeing the deep divide among party lines in our federal government is disheartening enough. Experiencing the same division within the state and local politics is even more difficult because it hits closer to home. The reality is, that no matter how efficient or effective someone’s ideas may be to help the community, if they are not a part of the majority or if they do not hold a high rank of power, it is very hard to accomplish anything. The best that can happen is being left with poor choices, of which none are good, and there is no say in the scraps that are given to work with.
In closing, I want to address something of which I am a firm believer of: Term Limits. I am hereby announcing that at the end of my term I will not be seeking re-election to the city council. My uncle, Murph Pitarresi, held office as a Republican city councilman in Niagara Falls from 1972-1976. I will never forget him telling me that “politics is a calling, not a career." If only people at all levels of government recognized this, perhaps then it would be better understood that they took an oath to serve the people for the time they lead, not be elected to have the people serve them.
Kenny Tompkins is a Niagara Falls City Councilman.