A political newcomer, but lifelong Falls resident, is throwing his hat into the ring for a seat on the Falls City Council.
James Abbondanza announced his candidacy at the same time that the Niagara County Democratic Committee endorsed his run.
"Enough is enough already! Our government is here to serve us, the residents, not the other way around," Abbondanza said. "The culture of cronyism and patronizing attitudes from elected leaders in our local government needs to stop. For this city to survive, we need to work together to make sweeping changes in leadership, policy and legislation.”
Abbondanza is calling for what he describes as "citizen-centric policies," along with a cultural change at city hall to "help us on to the long path of recovery."
Key among the planks of his platform, Abbondanza said, is working to improve the quality of life of his fellow residents by focusing on policies and legislation that will help residents address problem areas such as illegal dumping, blight, aging infrastructure, lack of citizen programs and crime.
“The citizens of Niagara Falls should be the first consideration when our leaders make choices," he said. "Unfortunately, the only time our representatives seem to think of us, is when they need more of our hard-earned money to fill in the deficits caused by their mismanagement.”
Also on Abbondanza’s to-do list are "creating proactive governmental transparency, developing future income opportunities and pushing for financial accountability." He accused the current council of "a lot of rubber stamping (of city budgets)."
Abbondanza serves as the president of the Niagara Falls Tourist Home Association (NFTHA). The group was instrumental in blocking proposals by Mayor Robert Restaino to overhaul the city's short-term rental ordinances.
NFTHA members argued that the new ordinance would have "diminished the chance for improvement of our neighborhoods and negatively affected small business owners."
“Seeing local small business owners step-up with their own time and money to make beneficial changes in neighborhoods has been one of the more encouraging trends happening in Niagara Falls," Abbondanza said. "Local businesses that are a positive force in Niagara Falls should be supported by the city and its policies, not actively discouraged and punished.”
A graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), Abbondanza has worked in business, education and government with an emphasis in the information technology field for 25 years. He is a former IT specialist with the Niagara Gazette.
He is a father to three sons.