Social media has helped heat up a City of Tonawanda mayor's race, one that both candidates admit has turned nasty.
Rick Davis, mayor for the past four years and Fourth Ward Common Councilman from 2006-2009, is running on the Democrat, Independent, Working Families, Green and Women's Equality lines. Fourth Ward Common Councilman Timothy Toth will be on the Republican, Reform and Conservative lines.
The nastiness touches on Davis' personal life and issues involving the mayor and his ex-wife.
Toth denied those matters were originally brought up by his campaign, calling the reports "public knowledge." But he said once the issue came up at a candidates forum his campaign did follow up with flyers.
"Unfortunately that's the way politics can get. It seems the closer the end of the race gets, the nastier it gets," said Toth.
Davis also said the race has gotten nasty, but he said it has not come from his supporters. He has called the flyers, which accuse him of bid-rigging among other things, are libelous.
"I'm of the mindset that if you have to get nasty and bring very personal family issues into an election, that you A), lack the ideas and B), you lack the initiative and the accomplishments from being on the Council and C), you lack the integrity it takes to be mayor of a small city," said Davis.
Davis said economic development has moved forward on his watch with the Main Street Program established as a local development agency to go after grants.
Some hot button issues on social media sites have included the 2018 budget; the $1 million intermodal bike hub/bathroom, and development of Spaulding Green Commerce Park.
Davis said he is trying to get Spaulding Green back on the tax rolls, working with a development company to gather leads, while Toth wants to go after a multi-use arena project that was proposed last year
"A lot of people are upset with a 5 percent tax increase, and quite a few people are upset with the bathroom," said Toth, a retired 24-year veteran of the City of Tonawanda Police Department.
He has touted his availability.
Davis has been a meteorologist at the at the Buffalo Airport for 16 years, and prior to that served in the Air Force for nine years.
Davis said he makes himself available to the public outside of normal business hours via social media, because "that's what a public servant should do," and that he supports city events and is an active presence in schools.
Both sides pointed fingers in the budget process, with Davis noting that he has to make his budget presentation before the election, while the Council adopts the budget after the election. Toth said it has been tough making cuts after they were handed a budget from the mayor. He said he would like to create a budget advisory committee.
Davis points out that the sometimes-criticized intermodal hub was creatively funded with a combination of grants, allowing the city to fix a parking lot and upgrade to the $1 million hub/rest stop using only $234,000 in city money. Toth said he approved the hub, but believes the city got less than expected when it was completed.
Davis has been endorsed by the City of Tonawanda Police Union, the UAW, CWA and AFL-CIO.
Toth has been endorsed by the City of Tonawanda Fire Union and the Good Government Club of Western New York.