Mayor Michael W. Tucker and his election opponent, Michael J. Pillot, have engaged in a rough-and-tumble campaign, and Pillot, the Democratic underdog, has been on the offensive through most of it.
Pillot, who retired in May from the Police Department after a 25-year career as a patrolman and a juvenile detective, has engaged in what might be called the politics of accusation.
A virtually non-existent campaign suddenly turned white-hot Sept. 6 when Pillot, in a question-and-answer session in Lockport Public Library, charged that the Police Department was harboring criminals within its ranks, and Tucker, a Republican completing his first term, allegedly knew about it and did nothing.
Pillot asserted that he had evidence on a computer disk he had given to a friend. When Police Chief Neil B. Merritt called Pillot out and demanded that he reveal the evidence, Pillot said he told the friend to destroy it.
Pillot was interviewed by the Niagara County district attorney's office, but nothing came of it.
"I don't know that there's anything we're looking at based on anything he told us," District Attorney Matthew J. Murphy III said last week.
While the challenger's accusations fly, the incumbent said he's running a low-key campaign.
"I haven't been door-to-door," Tucker said. "I'm running on my record. . . . I think the last few years we've been very successful. We turned this city around."
He said the new Ulrich City Centre will provide 200 jobs at full strength, but Pillot said, "I have pictures of 14 businesses that closed."
Tucker, 50, of Beattie Avenue, is married with three children.
Pillot, 53, of Waterman Street, is married with two grown children.
Pillot also accuses Tucker of planning to run for the Assembly next year against fellow Republican Michael Cole. Tucker said he intends to serve the full four years as mayor but wouldn't rule out a shot at higher office.
"I have no intention of running for the Assembly, but I'm not going to sell myself short, either," Tucker said.
As for other issues, Pillot charged that Tucker's move to cancel last year's partial property reassessment left low- and middle-income homeowners stuck with full-value assessments, while wealthier citizens are being taxed at partial value. Most of the 2006 revaluation was in wealthier neighborhoods.
Tucker said, "I have concerns about the equalization rate, but it has to be fair. Some of those reassessments were grossly unfair. I couldn't burden the taxpayers with that. There would have been several court challenges and I'm not sure we could have won them."
Tucker said with the equalization rate falling, he lined up an 11 percent state aid increase through State Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane, to make up for the decline in the tax base.
Pillot also is attacking what he says are the city's high water bills.
Tucker and other city officials say Lockport's water rates are in the middle of those charged by comparable cities.
The only contested alderman race is in the 2nd Ward, where Amanda L. Alexander, 46, of Cave Street, operator of a landscape design business, is facing Dennis J. Stachera, 61, of Regent Street, a retiree and a former alderman.
Alexander won the Republican primary over Stachera, but the latter is running on the Conservative line. The Democrats have no candidate in the ward.
Alexander praised the increased building inspection staff the Council included in the 2008 budget, but Stachera blasted the $10,000 raise the Council gave to Chief Building Inspector James P. McCann.
Coming Friday: Races in Cambria, the Town of Niagara and on the Niagara Falls Council.