Jeffrey Elder has never run for elected office before.
He may be as far from a politician as a candidate for mayor of Niagara Falls can get.
But in May, Elder gathered 2,678 signatures and got himself a spot on the November election ballot for his self-created Dynamic New Future Line.
"I'm not politically affiliated, in fact I'm not political," Elder said at a news conference to formally announce his candidacy.
But that doesn't mean that Elder, who was born and raised in the Falls, then left for the military, and has now come back home, isn't more than ready to get into a competitive political race. Saying he has traditionally "voted my heart," Edler found neither of the major parties were particularly interested in him as a candidate.
"When I first started to get in (to running for mayor), others wouldn't let me in," Elder said.
So he petitioned his way on to the November ballot, using the kind of "creativity and ingenuity" he says has been lacking for too long in the Falls.
"I have been all over the world with three presidents (in his military service) and often came home to Niagara Falls to be disappointed and heartbroken at the decline I see here," Elder said. "The decline is the result of the failure of creativity and ingenuity of past leaders or their inability to communicate with other leaders."
Elder said he intends to Inspire growth, along with a vision for the future of the Cataract City.
"My whole career has been focused on motivation and service," Elder said. "I believe I can utilize my international and national contacts to bring a dynamic new future to my home town."
After graduating in June 1980 from LaSalle Senior High School, where he lettered in football, wrestling and track and field, Elder joined the Air Force. He became a fire protection specialist at bases ranging from West Germany to Syracuse.
Later in his military career, as a sergeant, Elder transitioned to a role as an in-flight passenger service specialist, eventually being chosen in 1994 to join the crew on Air Force One, flying with Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
He was on board Air Force One with President Bush on 9/11.
"Over the past several weeks, the reaction to my candidacy has been very encouraging," Elder said recently. "Thousands of voters have signed petitions to place my name on the ballot. They want change and they want it now."
After retiring from the military, Elder worked as a disaster preparedness specialist with Northrup Grumman Corporation at the Pentagon and then joined the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He concluded his government service at the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State.
Elder said he once talked about the Falls while flying on Air Force One with Clinton.
"I told him about my passion for Niagara Falls," he said.
Now Elder said he'll try to put that passion into practice.
"I see myself as a person who can get things done," he said.