By Mike Hudson, The Niagara Falls Reporter
Former City Court Judge Robert Restaino might be the frontrunner. After being removed from the bench following a controversial 2007 decision by the state Judicial Board of Review, Restaino worked for the county as a Medicaid fraud specialist and resigned that position to run against incumbent Republican Assemblyman John Ceretto in 2012.
While the popular former judge carried the city of Niagara Falls by 5,000 votes, Ceretto’s margins in the suburbs carried him to a victory in a contest so close that the winner could not be determined on election night.
When asked by the Reporter if he was interested in making a run for mayor next year, Restaino declined to comment.
Dyster’s popularity shrank decisively from 2007, when he beat Republican challenger Candra Thomason by almost 60 points, to 2011, when he bested the GOP nominee Johnny Destino by a mere 10 points. There has been nothing noteworthy in his second term that could be seen as reversing that downward trend.
Also considering a run for the mayor’s office is another Democrat, City Councilman Glenn Choolokian.
From his taking office in 2012 and through 2013, Choolokian was a member of a three-man City Council majority that attempted to curb Dyster’s spending practices. But with the primary election upset of former councilman Sam Fruscione, and the subsequent, more conciliatory position of Councilman Bob Anderson, Choolokian these days is often the lone “no” vote against Dyster’s spending plans although the council is far from the rubber stamp that some feared with Fruscione’s exodus. Newly elected Councilman Andrew Touma has shown independence although Dyster has clearly gained ground.
On the Republican side, former councilman and local insurance agency owner John Accardo is also making the rounds as a possible Dyster opponent.
Formerly a Democrat, Accardo’s political history in Niagara Falls is complicated. After defeating incumbent Mayor James Galie in the 1999 primary election, he lost to Republican Irene Elia in the general election, but retained his seat on the City Council for several years.
Accardo re-emerged on the political scene in 2010 when he challenged assemblywoman Francine DelMonte in the Democratic primary and won an upset victory before going on to lose against Republican John Ceretto in the general election. DelMonte, running on a minor party line, provided the margin of difference, handing the district – which was gerrymandered to favor Democrats – to the Republican Ceretto.
The next year, Accardo challenged Dyster in the Democratic primary, going down to defeat. Afterward Accardo switched parties. He is now a registered Republican.
Whether any or all of these men will challenge Dyster, and whether Dyster himself will run, remains to be seen.
This article was first published in the Niagara Falls Reporter, and is being republished with their permission.