Longtime North Tonawanda political leader elected Common Council president - The Buffalo News

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Longtime North Tonawanda political leader elected Common Council president

After more than a decade serving the people of North Tonawanda as a both an alderman and Niagara County Legislator, Phillip “Russ” Rizzo was elected as president of the city’s Common Council at the council’s reorganization meeting on Thursday.

Rizzo, 80, an independent who caucuses with the Republican party, has been continuously elected to serve North Tonawanda since 2000, serving six terms as First Ward Alderman and one term as a Niagara County Legislator. He was re-elected to the Council in November.

“I am excited taking the lead,” said Rizzo, who praised the leadership of Mayor Robert G. Ortt. “He’s got the city going in the right direction. I am just hoping we can continue that – to keep this city on the move, because I really think North Tonawanda is leading all the other cities in the area.”

Rizzo succeeds Richard Andres, who left the Council after being elected to the Niagara County Legislature in November.

Donna Braun took her seat for the first time on Thursday, succeeding Andres as Second Ward Alderman.

Rizzo said, “I love what I do. I love taking care of my constituents. I love taking care of problems that the city has and I really, really enjoy it. ... And I am really honored that my colleagues chose me to lead them and I am very excited about that.”

In other business, the Council reorganized several citizen boards, which included temporarily dissolving the three-member Cable Commission, which has been largely inactive in recent years. Ortt told the Council that a long-term agreement is in place with Time Warner Cable until 2016 and all three commissioners’ terms have expired. The dissolution will save the city $700.

He said that the board will be reorganized to negotiate a new agreement.

Two new citizen boards were created: the Persons with Disabilities Advisory Board, which will help the city with administrative requirements under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act; and the Monument Preservation Commission to oversee monuments in various parks.

The Property Maintenance Task Force was reorganized into a Property and Code Advisory Committee, which will consist of five North Tonawanda residents, as well as standing positions for the building inspector, the fire prevention officer, a Common Council member and the Mayor or a mayor’s representative.

email: nfischer@buffnews.com

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