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Falls Democratic Party is certainly not racist

I am sorry to have to write this letter. However, lies, distortions and vile falsehoods cannot go unchallenged. So I feel compelled to fight back against the most recent lie; the completely false accusations that the Niagara Falls Democratic Committee and I are racist.

First, let me tell you, I am not a lifelong "politico." I got involved in the Democratic Party in Niagara Falls because I saw something different occurring in Niagara Falls. I saw integrity and honesty in government return to the mayor's office. I saw some folks trying to have a new day dawn in Niagara Falls. But I also saw the people who held power for so long, fighting by any means necessary, to hold onto, or reclaim, that power. These are the same people who have done little for the city but much for themselves, and who have propagated the atmosphere of hatred now seen in politics in our city. I decided to get involved to help anyone who shared the dream of a new, better, Niagara Falls.

Once again, however, this group of power mongers, having no viable policies or programs to discuss, returned to the politics of hate and character assassination, against any and all who dare to oppose them. It has become painfully obvious that this is a tactic designed to intimidate good people from entering public service, to honestly serve the people's best interests versus serving this group's agenda. The message obviously is: "We will attack you and assassinate your character personally unless you fall in line with us."

This character assassination is led by Renae Kimble, who has leveled hurtful charges of racism against the city party, the mayor and me, and I need to set the record straight. First of all, the petition challenges that we filed were colorblind. This year, African-American and white candidates filed petitions. Some of those petitions were solid, legally prepared documents. Others clearly did not follow the law. I happen to think that candidates, white and black, should be expected to uphold the law. That's not about racism. It's about ensuring the integrity of our voting process.

Let me remind you that Ms. Kimble has frequently challenged her opponents' petitions in the past. Again this year, Ms. Kimble's allies challenged an African-American candidate's petitions. One of Ms. Kimble's close allies actually stated in the July 26 newspaper that it is OK for an African-American to challenge another African-American's petition, but it is not OK for a white person to do it. Isn't this kind of double standard itself actually a racist statement?

As to our decision not to endorse Bob Anderson for City Council, I can say it was also a colorblind decision. Mr. Anderson's only claim to fame is that, if a resident calls him, he'll answer the phone and try to help the person. I assure you that our endorsed Democratic candidates will not do only that, but they actually have new and creative ideas to move this city forward for all residents. Would we be anti-woman had we not endorsed Alicia Laible? Or anti-Italian had we not endorsed Don Zambotti?

The Democratic Party has endorsed Owen Steed, an African-American candidate, for County Legislature. We vigorously endorsed Charles Walker, a fine man and councilman and also an African-American, two years ago in his successful bid for re-election. I personally campaigned for Councilman Walker at the same time I was also County Legislator Ric Marasco's campaign manager. I even carried petitions for Ms. Kimble in her 2009 campaign as a commissioner of deeds after fulfilling my obligations as a member of the Democratic Committee.

Although schedules have not yet permitted, I have asked for the opportunity to meet with the Niagara Falls Ministerial Council to learn how our party can work more closely with African-American leaders to address vital community needs. I will again quote Dr. Martin Luther King, who said, "I long for the day when my children are judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." I wholeheartedly believe that. In all ways.

David C. Houghton, city Democratic Party chairman

Niagara Falls