071106 fournier

Niagara Falls Councilman winner Steve Fournier Jr. speaks with Joe Sanelli, president of the Downtown Niagara Falls Business Association at Cafe Etc. shortly after winning his seat in November. In his first few months on the job, Fournier has been learning the ropes of city government.

Not many people were confident Steve Fournier Jr. would claim one of the two open seats on the Niagara Falls City Council this past fall.

The first-time candidate lacked political experience and was passed up by his own Democratic Party for endorsement.

Still, his focus and promises to bring a common sense approach back to City Hall enticed voters to the polls and he finished the second vote-getter among a crowded field of candidates. Since then, the owner of Cafe Etc. has been learning the ropes as a rookie councilman.

Fournier recently sat down with the Niagara Gazette to review how his first two months have gone, his goals for the upcoming year and why he thinks the current council has blended together so well.

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QUESTION: How have your first two months on the council gone?

ANSWER: I’m getting a very good response, our agendas aren’t too big right now. I like it a lot, I like the people I’m working with. I think we’ve got a good relationship and the council has a good relationship with the mayor and the administration — that’s clutch. We’re all moving forward, and It’s interesting with council because we all do our own things ... we are all responsible for different things, so we just try not to step on each other’s toes. When we bring something to each other, it works out pretty well. There’s some hard-working guys in council, they’re really poking around and trying to do the best for the city. The core of people we have on the council itself are pretty good. We respect all of each other’s opinions and ideas. We’ve got a pretty good clique going.

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Q: What are some of the things you’re responsible for on your own?

A: I focus on issues affecting the downtown area and I go down to Lockport once a month now to find out what money is available for Niagara County. I’m also looking into all the abandoned houses in the city and what we can do about them. The inspections department and Guy Bax have been very helpful with that. I’ve also been looking a little bit into issues in the LaSalle area. I try to bring as much to the table as possible. I think because I have a background running a small business and I’m out in the community so much, I bring a different aspect to the council. They treat me with respect.

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Q: Since becoming a councilman, what’s the most common complaint you’ve heard from the public?

A: It’s the usual things, the streets are in bad condition. Hopefully, the city is really going to address that this year. We’re going to be getting new equipment and we’ve spent all winter making a game plan. I definitely see people being more positive. One thing we really need to do is boost the morale of people. It doesn’t take a lot of big things to do that, it just take’s some small things at first.

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Q: How would you rate the performance of USA Niagara in the city?

A: I feel they’re moving along and getting jobs done. One of my big concerns is when you’re done with a project, you still need to maintain it. I would like to make sure they have something in place to maintain some of the things they’ve done.

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Q: What are your goals for the upcoming year?

A: Basically, I’m concerned about downtown business and the housing situation around here. We have a lot of problems with absentee landlords in this city and something needs to be done. I’m going to do anything in my power to address this. Every day, I find something new to work on. Being on the council is a lot of work, but I find it interesting.

Contact reporter Rick Forgioneat 282-2311, ext. 2257.

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