Primary voters in Niagara Falls have plenty to decide on Thursday, including in the Democratic primary for City Council.
The Democratic race for two spots on the November ballot features three challengers and an incumbent – Alicia M. Laible, Ezra P. Scott Jr., Rick D. Smith, along with Robert A. Anderson Jr., who is seeking his fourth Council term.
Laible, 32, is director of network development for Elderwood Health Plan, a managed long-term care company, and executive director of Elderwood Transportation. She is also former chairwoman of the city Democratic Committee.
Laible won the Democratic primary for Council four years ago, but lost in the general election. She has a master’s degree in social work from the University at Buffalo.
She said she thinks transparency in government is important for the community and wants to work on the city’s aging infrastructure and reform the city’s budget process.
“It should be a yearlong conversation” about the budget between the mayor and Council members, rather than what exists now, which is the Council having about a month to make changes to what’s proposed by the mayor.
Scott, 29, is making his first bid for public office. A graduate of the SUNY Cortland, Scott is a substitute teacher in the Falls and a youth mentor for the Niagara Falls Housing Authority. A former corrections officer in a youth facility, Scott said he moved back to Niagara Falls in 2012.
Scott said he wants to bring about a more skilled workforce in the city so that people can educate themselves for better-paying jobs.
“There is a poverty mindset that I see here,” Scott said. “A lot of people that have lost hope.”
Smith, 68, is a retired electrician from Niagara Mohawk Power Co. and chairman of the city’s Planning Board.
He said he’s running because now he feels it’s “an opportunity to make a difference.”
“My only agenda is the city and the citizens, and it’s to make this city a better place to live in,” he said.
Anderson, 73, is a retired Air Force veteran. He has long asserted the city should be using its casino revenue to lower property taxes in order to make the Falls the place with the lowest taxes in the country. Such a move would attract people to live here and businesses to locate here. He said he was not included in negotiations with the state when the guidelines for casino spending were established.
“I have more knowledge than anybody in the entire state of New York about negotiating,” he said during last week’s candidates’ forum.
Both Smith and Anderson have appeared on a billboard with Councilman Glenn A. Choolokian, who is running in the Democratic primary for mayor.
Laible and Scott have been endorsed by the city Democratic Committee, as is incumbent Mayor Paul A. Dyster.
The winners of the Democratic primary will face Republicans Willie A. Price and Kenny M. Tompkins for two Council seats available in the general election.
In addition to the Council race and Republican and Democratic mayoral primaries, there’s also a three-way race on the Democratic and Conservative party lines for City Court judge featuring David G. Boniello, Danielle M. Restaino and incumbent Mark A. Violante.