LOCKPORT – Alderman Ronald A. Franco said Wednesday he’s not going to run in this fall’s election, citing time conflicts with his job as an American Airlines pilot.
The 2nd Ward Republican, who was appointed to the Council in March, after Anne E. McCaffrey’s Feb. 21 promotion to mayor, said he will continue to serve until his appointment runs out at the end of the year.
But he won’t be entered in the Nov. 4 election for the one year that will be left in McCaffrey’s unexpired 2nd Ward term. It’s the only city office on the ballot this year.
McCaffrey said that in Franco’s place, the Republicans are nominating Patrick A. Feeley of Regent Street, a first-time candidate. The Democrats will counter with Anita Mullane of Lindhurst Drive, who has run unsuccessfully for the Common Council twice before.
“I’m very discouraged by what’s going on in our city, and I feel like it’s time to get involved again,” said Mullane, 55. She lost to John Lombardi III for 5th Ward alderman in 2005 and to Joseph C. Kibler for alderman at large in 2009.
Mullane said the city’s financial crisis and the debt costs resulting from the state-authorized borrowing of up to $5.35 million to cover accumulated deficits will drag down home values.
Feeley said, “That’s the issue of 2014, that the city’s financially stressed.”
Feeley, 62, is a vice president of Prolift, a Cheektowaga company that sells forklifts and other materials handling equipment. He said he submitted a resume when McCaffrey was looking for a 2nd Ward appointee, but the mayor chose Franco.
Franco said, “I really, really wish I could keep doing this. I enjoy it. I like the people. I like where Anne’s bringing the city. It’s just professionally, with Wednesday night meetings, it’s a little too difficult.”
Feeley said McCaffrey called him when Franco confided that he wasn’t going to run and asked if Feeley would take on the race.
“I’ve always been interested in city government but never had the time,” said Feeley, who said he’s not planning to retire from Prolift, but has more spare time these days because of recent changes in his family life.
The Democrats have made it clear they intend to tie the can of fiscal crisis to the Republicans’ tail. Tucker and McCaffrey are Republicans, as have been most of the aldermen over the past decade.
City Democratic Chairman Edward W. Tracy said at Wednesday’s Council meeting that the “dead money” of paying off the deficit “will be a millstone around our neck for the next 10 years. … It will have a depressing effect on the value of all of our homes, and no one can come up with a good reason why we blew through $5.3 million.”
Mullane said she’s worried about her home. “If it were in the town (of Lockport), it would be worth a lot more,” she said. “I don’t know where the problem is, but I don’t think it should have come to this.”
Feeley said, “I see this as an opportunity to right the ship. There’s only two options, reducing expenses or increasing revenues, and I’m not in favor of raising taxes, so there have to be some adjustments.”