NIAGARA FALLS – Three spots on the Democratic line in November’s general election are up for grabs in Tuesday’s City Council primary.
The primary – the only city-level race in the Falls – features a trio of incumbents and one challenger.
Newcomer Andrew P. Touma will vie with incumbents Samuel F. Fruscione, Kristen M. Grandinetti and Charles A. Walker.
One of the hottest issues in the Falls of late has been a $25.3 million proposed mixed-use development downtown from the Hamister Group that has been tabled since early July by the three-member Council majority, of which Fruscione is a member.
His opponents have criticized Fruscione on the issue, although he contends that he has the best interest of taxpayers at heart.
Touma, dean of students at LaSalle Preparatory School, said he would be a “voice of reason” on the Council.
“What we need in Niagara Falls is change,” Touma, 45, said in an Aug. 30 debate on BuffaloNews.com.
“We need folks who are able to compromise and work together and move this city forward in a new direction,” he added.
Walker, who has been on the Council since 1999, believes that the city has been moving forward but needs to be more business-friendly to increase the tax base.
“We kind of got off track here lately, but I believe we have been moving in the right direction,” Walker said at the Aug. 30 debate.
Walker, 54, is manager of community outreach at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.
Fruscione, a city schoolteacher, has been on the Council since 2006.
He has portrayed himself as a watchdog for taxpayers and said he has been working to improve the terms of the proposed agreement for the Hamister project.
“The reason why we’re tabling the agreement at this point in time is to make sure that everything is in place, because we’ve had a lot of bad deals given to us,” Fruscione, 47, said in the BuffaloNews.com debate.
Grandinetti, a prekindergarten teacher in the Falls who is seeking her second term on the Council, told a candidates forum in late August that the city would be further along if it didn’t spend so much time “combating lies and dealing with infighting.”
“I want the city to grow – grow its tax base, grow its population, grow businesses and grow new ideas,” said Grandinetti, 54. “That is success in my book.”
The Niagara Falls Democratic Committee did not endorse any candidates.
Touma and Grandinetti have been endorsed on the Working Families line, where they will appear in November.
The three candidates who get the most votes in Tuesday’s primary will face Robert J. Elder, Vincent M. Sandonato and Russell F. Vesci, who have the Republican lines on the ballot.
The three open seats each carry four-year terms.
Watch the entire Aug. 30 debate at BuffaloNews.com/thebrink. email: firstname.lastname@example.org