LOCKPORT – Michael J. Pillot, a retired policeman who lost races for mayor of Lockport in 2007 and 2011, is trying again.
Pillot, a Democrat, said Friday he is making his third attempt “to bring honest government and respect back to the people of this city.”
Pillot, defeated by Republican Michael W. Tucker in his first two campaigns, said he doesn’t have an elaborate platform; he said he just “wants to help the people.”
“I think people are having a hard time. It’s getting tougher in the city: infrastructure, building, 10 percent tax (increase), water bills going up. People are struggling,” said Pillot, 60. “If I get in there, I would look at every single department, look at every cost-cutting measure I possibly could. I would save money in any way and every way possible. The No. 1 thing is, we have to look out for the elderly in the city. Most people in the city are on a pension. They can’t afford it. The last election I sat in a lot in a lot of living rooms, and people are having a hard time.”
The city’s financial crisis has led to a series of controversial decisions by Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey, who succeeded Tucker 13 months ago, and the Common Council. They have laid off employees, abolished the Fire Department’s ambulance service and virtually wiped out youth programs.
“I would have done every single thing in my power to keep the ambulances,” said Pillot, who believes his life was saved by Fire Department paramedics after he collapsed while attending a Council meeting in June 2011. They were able to run from the fire station, which is in City Hall, and rush him to the hospital. Today, they would have to wait for Twin City Ambulance to arrive.
“Do I always agree with all the firemen? No. Do all of them like me? No. Do I like of all of them? We all have our differences. But I can honestly say our ambulance service was one of the best around,” Pillot said.
He also promised, “I’m not going to run a dirty campaign. I don’t believe in that. They want to hear what you’re going to do, how you’re going to help. They don’t want to hear who’s bad and who’s good. The last campaign, I ran probably the cleanest campaign this city’s seen in years.”
He declined to criticize many of McCaffrey’s decisions, saying he tries to take the long view. For example, he said he wouldn’t have auctioned off Tucker’s city car, as McCaffrey did.
“Everybody thought that was a great idea. I look at it differently. You got rid of a car with 30,000 miles on it for $7,000 or $8,000 when you could have given that to the building inspector, you could have given it to the Police Department for a detective car. You could have used that vehicle. A year or two later, you’ve got to buy a vehicle for that department for $20,000 or $30,000. Where did you save money? The problem, I feel, in this city, and it’s gone on for a long time, it’s ‘What can we do for today or tomorrow?’ But nobody looks ahead,” Pillot said.
In 2007, Tucker routed Pillot by more than 2,000 votes, as Pillot garnered only 28 percent of the vote. Four years later, the race was much closer, as Tucker won by 299 votes, 53 percent to 47 percent, with a slightly smaller turnout.