NIAGARA FALLS – The City Council on Wednesday unanimously elected Councilman Charles A. Walker to a one-year term as chairman.
Entering his fifth, four-year term on the Council, Walker has previously served as chairman three times, he said.
Councilman Glenn A. Choolokian served as chairman last year.
Walker, Councilwoman Kristen M. Grandinetti and newcomer Andrew P. Touma were sworn into office by City Judge Angelo J. Morinello during a morning ceremony in Council Chambers.
Samuel F. Fruscione was the only one of three incumbents unsuccessful in their bid for re-election last year.
Touma, who was the top vote-getter in the November election, described the previous Council as “fractured.”
“I believe Charles has the leadership skills to bring the Council together,” Touma said.
Touma pointed to the unanimous vote, adding, “So I think everybody felt that way, maybe not at first.”
Touma said Grandinetti was interested in taking on the role of chairwoman, which she confirmed when later asked about it.
Grandinetti said that while she was interested, she stepped back and thought about what was good for the city, noting Walker’s experience.
She said she looks forward to her opportunity to serve as chairwoman in the future, saying she trusts that she will get a chance to lead with this Council.
“Given the fact that Charles is the senior member of the City Council and this is more than likely his last term, I thought that it was in the best interest of the community to stand behind his leadership,” Grandinetti said.
Choolokian and Councilman Robert A. Anderson Jr. both said Walker had reached out to them asking for their support as chairman.
Anderson and Choolokian had previously been aligned with Fruscione and constituted a majority of three members that often voted together on controversial issues.
Anderson said he was going to nominate Walker as chairman himself. Grandinetti’s motion to nominate Walker was the one officially recognized during the meeting.
“Everyone should get the opportunity to serve at least one year,” Anderson said.
While Walker, Grandinetti and Touma ran together in the last election, Walker said it was with the understanding that “we all have our own minds.”
Walker also said he does not like the term “majority” in terms of the Council and said he does not want any part of the Council to be considered a bloc or majority.
Walker said he plans to work with all Council members “as a team of five” and with Mayor Paul A. Dyster
“He’s built that relationship with Albany and Washington that we’ve needed for so long,” Walker said.
In a city where roughly 60 percent of registered voters are Democrats, Dyster and all five Council members are Democrats.