Experienced lawyer vows to listen to NT's residents
North Tonawanda City Attorney Katherine D. Alexander will ask voters to keep her in office this fall.
In announcing her candidacy, she said, "Our residents and taxpayers deserve to know that their city attorney will listen to them, work for them and get them results," Alexander said as she launched her candidacy. "That means being available and making our office more 'user-friendly.' "
Alexander has focused most of her legal career on municipal law. She has served as Niagara County's assistant county attorney for more than four years, as well as assistant to the city attorney.
In these roles, she has gained broad-based experience, including labor negotiations and grievance procedures, dealing with city and county contractors, setting legal requirements for construction projects and representing the city in housing and traffic courts.
Alexander was also instrumental in drawing up new city labor contracts that have resulted in members of four bargaining units contributing to the cost of their health care.
"I've served as the city's prosecutor in traffic court and protected our interests in the courtroom when we were litigated against," Alexander said. "I've also drawn up the legal documents to protect us and our employees. Municipal law experience means you must be able to balance a broad array of legal functions, not just one small area of law."
As an Albany Law School graduate who sat on the editorial board of the Albany Law School Journal of Science and Technology, Alexander is no stranger to integrating technology and law.
She promised to streamline and standardize city legal functions for residents and use technology to speed up and simplify their experience with city government.
"We need to provide an online portal to request police reports, and we need to standardize our planning and zoning functions," Alexander said. "When someone applies right now to subdivide property, they have to send a letter to the Planning Board with no standardized paperwork. We need to streamline and simplify that process to make it more user-friendly for our residents and more efficient for City Hall."
Alexander also noted that protecting residents' quality of life is a critical function of the city attorney's office. As assistant city attorney, she worked closely with mortgage lender Wells Fargo to return several foreclosed, unmaintained properties to the tax rolls.
"These properties became eyesores, and our neighborhoods were suffering," Alexander said. "The city attorney's job is to clear legal road blocks that are hurting city residents who are doing the right thing."
Public safety will be a key focus on her watch as city attorney. Her work as assistant county attorney regularly saw her prosecuting juvenile delinquents and persons in need of supervision (PINS) in Niagara Falls courts.
"This experience has taught me the value of intervening early and making sound decisions to protect our families and youth," Alexander said. She vowed her office would work closely with new initiatives being launched by both state Sen. Robert G. Ortt and Niagara County lawmakers to enhance local training and awareness of the heroin and opioid epidemic impacting the nation.
"I will institute local training and information sessions to boost awareness to help fight this problem," Alexander said. "The opioid addiction epidemic is impacting every cross-section of society, but it's impacting our young people in particular. We need policies that can successfully fight it. Families deserve to know their government is on their side, and I'm going to make sure NT is."
"I grew up here, and I'm running for this office because I want to make our community a better place. (Former City Attorney) Shawn Nickerson was a great city attorney, and set the bar high, but more can be done for our residents, and I intend to make sure this office serves them," she added.