Promises new vision for Cataract City
Former Niagara Falls City Council chairman and local business leader John G. Accardo is running for mayor of Niagara Falls, vowing a "new vision for a Cataract City that has lost sight of its potential," his campaign announced this morning.
"I love this city, and always have," Accardo said, explaining his reason for seeking the city's top job. "I believe we can do better, we can do more, but first, we need to just do."
Accardo, who helped build the Accardo Insurance Agency, said blue-collar lessons learned while running a private company, such as balancing a budget and building a lasting relationship in the community, would serve as guideposts for an Accardo administration.
"We have lost sight of what really matters," Accardo said. "We should focus on developing a 21st century economy. We should demand better living conditions for our residents. We should expect a leader who will fight for us, because this city is worth it."
Accardo's business acumen has been noted and rewarded by colleagues and business advocacy groups. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in business administration, is a Pine Avenue Business Person of the Year, and recipient of the Niagara Falls Area Chamber of Commerce Small Business Award.
Buffalo Business First recognized Accardo with its "40 under Forty" Award, which, the candidate wryly noted, "is a lasting testament to my youth and vigor for this job."
He is a graduate of the Leadership Niagara program, and a recipient of both the Salvation Army Bell Ringer Award and the Judge Michael A. Musmanno Citation of Honor.
Accardo sees a unique opportunity to be a leader. "I look forward to presenting a blueprint for success to residents. One that focuses on government living within their means, presenting a balanced and timely budget, and improving the quality of life for each and every resident," Accardo said. "This current business model of giving money away a la carte is not working."
Accardo vowed to be a "hands-on leader" noting he will provide "an unwavering commitment to make Niagara Falls a stronger, vibrant and more competitive city."
"We will make Niagara Falls financially strong while significantly eliminating excessive government spending and waste," Accardo said. "It's time we begin investing in our future while capitalizing on our waterfront. In order to stimulate development, we need a vision that encourages living-wage jobs for our residents. Eight years ago, we were promised a saving grace, but what we have had since has been continued population loss, higher taxes and a multimillion-dollar structural deficit."
Accardo noted that, with substantial revenues coming to the city from the Seneca Niagara Casino, the failure to generate growth and reverse still-dropping population numbers represented a "failure of government and a breaking of public trust."
"With $20 million a year coming into this city in casino funds, where are the results? Instead, our mayor proposed a 7.8 percent tax hike on local mom-and-pop businesses this year and a 3 percent tax increase on property owners," Accardo said. "That's not leadership. That's a surrender."
The former Democrat changed his affiliation to Republican two years ago following a primary versus the current mayor.
"As President Reagan once said 'the Democrat party left me,' " Accardo said. "The Democrat party leaders refused to tolerate ideas that supported lower taxes, a balanced budget, and a strong emphasis on economic development. Simply put, they chased me out for putting our future first."
Accardo said he will apply lessons learned in business to City Hall to get better results, and said the only hope the city has is to aggressively work to fix the city's financial and infrastructure problems through better management.
"I recently read in the Niagara Gazette that Gov. Cuomo didn't even mention the City of Niagara Falls in his State of the State address," Accardo said. "Our solutions won't come from the governor's office. I'm ready to lead, and I'm asking my neighbors to give me a chance to fight for them."