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Rizzo served honorably until his health failed

I am shocked by the callous comments North Tonawanda Common Council candidate Austin Tylec recently made about the late Council President Russ Rizzo.

I succeeded Rizzo as First Ward alderman when he realized that his long battle with cancer was turning into a losing fight. During the transition, Rizzo was extremely gracious to me, living up to his reputation as a civic-minded, decent man who always put North Tonawanda first. His death on April 29, while not unexpected, still came as a shock to so many of us who knew his leadership style and respected his wisdom and his devotion to public service. His epitaph could be summed up in five words: He was a good citizen.

That’s why Tylec’s comments in a recent podcast hosted by Erik Herbert are so shocking. Here, I quote directly from the transcript Herbert posted on the internet: “It’s an elected position and then someone steps down and then they appoint someone. … They knew they were going to maybe have someone step down, but why did they make people go through the process?” To that, Herbert replied, “We definitely have to ask questions like whether or not the whole thing is completely on the up-and-up,” and Tylec eagerly agreed.

Some things are bigger than politics. Rizzo served until his health failed. Maybe in Tylec’s world, that’s “not completely on the up-and-up,” but to those of us who’ve experienced life, it’s just a sad loss.

Mark Berube

First Ward Alderman

North Tonawanda

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