Just three weeks after announcing his intention to seek re-election to the Falls City Council, Council Member Chris Voccio has changed his mind.
Voccio, a Republican and former council chair, announced Wednesday that he will instead seek the Sixth District seat on the Niagara County Legislature. That seat was vacated when 15-term incumbent and Democratic Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso announced that he was retiring and would not seek a 16th term.
“While I love being a council member, I look forward to continuing to serve Niagara Falls in a new capacity," Voccio said. "The residents of legislative District 6 need a choice of candidates and they need someone with a strong history of standing up for taxpayers."
Voccio will face-off against his fellow city council member, and the endorsed Democratic candidate, William Kennedy. He and Voccio have frequently been at odds during their time on the council.
Both were first elected to public office in their first campaigns in 2017.
in a statement announcing his candidacy, Voccio sounded the same themes he highlighted in his bid for re-election to the City Council.
“As a Councilman, I stood up for taxpayers by voting against the garbage fee, I voted against bad budgets, I voted against bad contracts and I gave myself a pay-cut on day one,” Voccio said. “And I’ll bring that brand of self-sacrifice and concern for taxpayers to the county legislature.”
In a blog post, Voccio insisted his decision to give up a run for the council, a citywide election, for a smaller district race for the legislature was simply a matter of giving voters "a choice."
"I was ready to run another citywide campaign, knocking on doors in every ward, every district, on every street," Voccio wrote in his post. "when it looked like only one candidate was seeking (Virtuoso's) seat, I knew we needed to give the residents of the district a choice."
Voccio suggested that the choice in the race would be "stark."
"I voted against the garbage fee, which once again forced taxpayers to sacrifice while city government spending continued unabated," Voccio wrote in his blog post. "The other candidate voted for the garbage fee."
However, Kennedy has pointed out that he too opposed the garbage fee proposal by Mayor Paul Dyster in 2019. Kennedy said he backed in the fee in the city's 2020 budget only when faced with the prospect of laying off up to 70 police, firefighters and Department of Public Works employees.
"I took the big boy votes," Kennedy has said.
Voccio wrote that he had voted against city employee contracts that he called "bad deals for taxpayers." While a majority of the city council supported the contracts.
"I gave myself a 10% pay cut on day one, as part of my 2017 “10-5 Plan” campaign pledge," Voccio noted. "The other candidate voted against my pay cut resolution."
The council member's pay cut was converted into a tax deductible contribution the United Way.
As he promised in his council campaign, Voccio, the former publisher of the Gazette, said he would "self-fund my campaign so I remain beholden to no one."