By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette — One city resident is looking to bring some young blood to the City Council.
Joseph J. Swartz, 23, has officially announced his intent to run for one of the three council seats that will be up for grabs this November.
Standing on the steps of City Hall on a blustery, warm Wednesday in January, Swartz addressed a small group of family, supporters and reporters.
During his announcement speech, he took aim at both Mayor Paul Dyster's administration and the council, saying that for too long elected officials in Niagara Falls have been satisfied with the status quo.
"All too often many of our present elected officials prefer to look for answers in the failed practices of the past and, often times, repeat the same mistakes," Swartz said. "I am a member of a new generation of leadership and I prefer not to repeat the mistakes of the past. I know that in order for our city to thrive we must move forward, not backward."
Swartz said he would look to reduce taxes for residents and business owners by reducing redundancies in City Hall and removing red tape for development were he elected to the council.
Those home and business owners, Swartz said, have been ignored by the current leadership.
"For all of you who feel as if you are being ignored by City Hall I have one message for you," Swartz said. "I hear you. I see you. I am fighting for you and I will not allow City Hall to ignore you or your needs any longer."
Swartz, who is the first openly gay candidate to run for elected office in the history of the city, works as a telephone operator at the Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel. He first became interested in working in politics while filming city council meetings for Niagara Falls High School's public access channel OSC-TV 21 while he was a student, he said.
"That's when I really got interested in local politics and it's been a passion ever since," Swartz said.
The former Niagara Gazette intern will need to pass petitions to get on the ballot. He is seeking the Democratic, Working Families and Independence party lines.
Council members Charles Walker, Kristen Grandinetti and Sam Fruscione are up for re-election this year. Grandinetti is the only incumbent to announce her intention to run at this point.
Tim Demler, the former town supervisor in Wheatfield, is a co-chair of Swartz's campaign. Thomas Stevenson, a long-time Demler supporter, will act as the other co-chair of his campaign.
Demler, a Republican, said he wanted to work with Swartz despite their difference in political party because he believes Swartz is the type of person who can make things happen in Niagara Falls.
"He has a lot of good ideas," Demler said. "We helped him craft a plan that would be good for the city."