Tonawanda News — Tonawanda residents voted for a change in leadership this November, electing challenger Rick Davis over incumbent Ron Pilozzi — marking the year’s most noteworthy local election.
Davis, who will take office Jan. 1, delivered a resounding victory and won 55 percent of the votes. The new mayor is a former two-term councilman who works as a meteorologist at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
He also challenged Pilozzi in 2009, but lost by just 150 votes. This time around, Davis attributed the change in results to his strong stance against the Little League Drive housing development project, a proposal he opposes due to the tax abatement that would be given to those that reside in the 53 planned homes.
Pilozzi, a veteran who worked as a manager at General Motors, stood by the Little League Drive housing contract as a way for the city to bring in much-needed revenue without paying the $1.8 million for infrastructure costs at the 16.94-acre site, which is currently without sewer and water lines.
The two also battled over the sewer infrastructure plan. Davis has called for Tonawanda to focus its sewer work in the First Ward, where residents are struggling to combat ongoing flooding problems, while Pilozzi said the work had to be completed near the Spaulding Fiber property first to allow for the city’s growth.
Davis has also questioned why Pilozzi made the pavilion a priority in light of economic issues and a lack of development downtown.
“My biggest job is to work on community and economic development, and finding a way to move forward in those areas in the next four years,” he said on Election Day following his victory.
Pilozzi, who worked with the city for a total of 16 years, based much of his campaign on the stabilization of the city’s financial status and property taxes, as well as progress made at the former Spaulding Fiber property.
Voters also elected four new council members — Democrats Jackie Smilinich and Jenna Koch, and Republicans John “Jay” Hall and Charles Gilbert.THE LIST SO FAR • No. 10: Niawanda Park pavilion opens • No. 9: Kiddieland opens at carrousel museum • No. 8: NT marina gets a boost • No. 7: Joe Hollywood perishes in blaze • No. 6: Malone's bar owner slain • No. 5: Bills, Sabres seek new directions • No. 4: Budwey to sell stores after decades in town