From the front porch of his home, Paul A. Dyster, a former city councilman and the owner of a small business, announced his campaign for mayor Monday.
"Once again, the focus will be on making our city the kind of place where kids can grow up safely, get a good job and raise families," said Dyster, surrounded by young people who represent the reason he gave for seeking public office.
"And not have to break their parents' and grandparents' hearts, and further shrink our already shrinking city by moving away in search of a job."
Dyster, 52, is a Falls native who from 2000 to 2004 served one term on the City Council. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2003, when he narrowly lost the Democratic primary to Mayor Vince Anello, a fellow councilman who was endorsed by the city's Democratic Committee.
The party recently voted to endorse Councilman Lewis Rotella instead of Anello. Both already have announced their candidacies in this year's race.
Dyster said he was disappointed the decision was made before he made his announcement.
He owns and operates Niagara Tradition Home Beer & Wine Supplies, a small business in the Town of Tonawanda that sells beer- and wine-making equipment.
He also serves on the Niagara River Greenway Commission and as president of the boards at the nonprofit Niagara Arts and Cultural Center and the planned Niagara Experience Center.
Because, in part, of his volunteer roles, Dyster said deciding to run for mayor took a couple of months.
His father, Dr. Melvin B. Dyster, a Niagara Falls physician, said serving other people always has been one of the family's values. He was part of the small crowd of friends and family who gathered in the driveway of his son's Orchard Parkway home for the announcement, which Paul Dyster said was held outdoors in the daylight to symbolize a break with backdoor cronyism.
Dyster also didn't shy away from talking about the competition.
"I'm not going to accept $40,000 loans from downtown developers with no paperwork and no payback plan," he said. "Once again, we'll have a platform of good ideas for how to move our city forward, because good ideas are in short supply at City Hall right now."
Dyster said the FBI investigation into the $40,000 Anello accepted in 2003 from local businessman and developer Joseph Anderson -- described by the mayor as a loan between friends -- has cast a cloud over the city.
"I hope people haven't forgotten that I was running against [Anello] in the primary when he took the first of the payments [from Anderson]," Dyster said.
Dyster promised he would bring dramatic change to City Hall, which he said lawmakers in Albany and Washington, D.C., want to see.
"We've got the natural wonder of Niagara Falls, but we can't even get tourism right," he said. "Businesses are afraid to invest here, and the state and federal governments don't view the city as a trustworthy partner."
Dyster has touted ecotourism and heritage tourism as replacement for some of the city's lost manufacturing jobs. He said the importance of providing employment opportunities is hitting home more than ever because his two sons -- Bert, 22, and Ian, 19, -- both attend local colleges and their decisions to stay in the area will hinge on whether they can find jobs.
Dyster graduated from Bishop Duffy High School -- now Niagara Catholic -- in 1972 and holds a political science degree from the University at Buffalo. He also earned a doctorate in international relations and international law at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
From 1989 to 1994, he was the director of a graduate program in international affairs at the Pentagon for Catholic University.
Dyster moved back to Niagara Falls with his wife, Becky, also a Falls native, in the early 1990s.
Former Councilwoman Candra Thomason, a Republican, plans to formally announce her bid for mayor Wednesday.