Former City Court Judge Robert Restaino, announced his candidacy for Mayor last week, as Mayor Paul Dyster’s final term in office winds down ahead of elections next fall. Restaino is a popular figure with strong name recognition in Niagara Falls, where he lives and manages his law practice.
Elections loom as the Dyster Administration failed to close a nearly $13 million budget deficit, following three terms during which the City enjoyed windfall casino revenues. Critics say that Dyster squandered those revenues on an inflated operating budget that was packed with city staffers that our tax base can’t afford.
One of those staffers is Dyster loyalist Seth Piccirillo, the young Director of Community Development, a position that Dyster created. Piccirillo intends to challenge Judge Restaino despite the objections of some Democrats who are concerned that Piccarillo lacks the experience necessary to run a government.
Piccirillo has derided the Judge on the campaign trail in recent weeks as being “old” and “part of the establishment.” Some residents of the Cataract City have found the comments ageist and immature.
Restaino is 55 years old.
Niagara Falls is, on average, an older community than others locally. When looking at the City’s base of likely voters, the electorate that turns out is among the oldest in New York State.
It’s unclear if the young Piccirillo will issue a public apology for the remarks, which have been repeated at multiple public events.
Piccirillo will have other political pressures to contend with, too. He has been one of Dyster’s most loyal political operatives. With massive layoffs at City Hall eminent, it may be more difficult to mobilize the patronage machine around his candidacy that he might expect.