Candra Thomason, a former councilwoman and business manager, announced her candidacy for mayor before a small gathering of supporters Wednesday at the locally owned Bada Bean Cafe and Coffeeshop on Main Street.
Thomason, 50, said she chose the location because she believes the owners showed courage when they invested in the struggling commercial area.
A registered Republican in a heavily Democratic city, Thomason said she will run a campaign based on issues, and she talked at length about some of the areas at City Hall she wants to target.
"I have a lot of plans, and I'm willing to answer any questions," she said. "It's not about party. I'm representing a community and I want to represent you."
Thomason finished her first term on the City Council in 2005 and was unsuccessful in a bid for re-election that year.
She said she would start by lowering taxes as mayor and then reform city government by hiring professionally qualified people.
"We haven't put the right people in the right positions," she said. "And we've paid for it."
She said she wants to create an economic development advisory board that includes members with real experience. She also promised if she is elected there would be no back-door development deals, which she said have held the city back.
Thomason said her platform will address housing, ways to increase tourism and support for small businesses.
She said the City Charter needs to be changed and must be unified into one document, an effort she supported during her time in office.
"The only thing [the current Council] changed was the pay that the new mayor will get," she said. "What's that about?"
The Council recently increased the annual salary for the mayor to $78,000 from $30,000, which will take effect next year.
Thomason graduated from Niagara Falls High School in 1975 and earned an accounting and business management degree from Kelley Business Institute.
She moved to Niagara Falls with her family as a child and said she wants to serve in public office because her late father, a Marine, instilled in her a love for the city.
Thomason is involved in many volunteer groups and is a past president of the Miss Niagara County Scholarship Competition.
Dr. Maria Crea, the medical director at Health Association of Niagara County, works with Thomason in the local volunteer organization Operation Pride & Progress.
"One of the things that's important is that she's honest," Crea said Wednesday. "I think she has the vision, determination and tenacity to do what she says she's going to do."
City Republican Committee Chairman Frank Pannozzo said endorsements will be announced after the party interviews candidates for mayor and City Council on April 30. He said Thomason is the only declared Republican candidate for mayor.
Pannozzo, who worked on Thomason's first campaign for Council, said he thinks she would bring some needed change to the city.
Tyrone Rowe Sr., a Falls resident who is a member of the Working Family Party, said he attended Wednesday's event because he liked what he heard on Thomason's local cable access television show.
"She not a regular Republican," he said. "She's a down-to-earth Republican."