By Jessica Bagley firstname.lastname@example.org
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Ron Pilozzi’s two-decade run in City of Tonawanda politics will come to an end as his Democratic challenger, Rick Davis, won by a convincing margin in Tuesday’s election.
Democrats recorded the vote margin as 2,057-1,679 in Davis’ favor, while the Erie County Board of Elections website did not have final results published as of deadline.
“I am very happy and pleased that the residents recognized my hard work,” Davis said at a jubilant Democratic party gathering held at the local American Legion Post. “The voters wanted change and believed in me.”
Davis, a two-term councilman who works as a meteorologist at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport with the Federal Aviation Administration, ran against Republican Pilozzi in 2009, losing by just 150 votes. But this time around, Davis finished off the night with a bottle of champagne in hand amid cheers of “change is coming” from his supporters.
“I think my dedication to my door to door campaign ... and giving the voters a clear line on the issues that separated the two candidates helped residents,” he said. “They felt like eight years was enough.”
Davis has spoken out strongly against the city’s proposed contract with Natale for the Little League development due to the tax abatement that will be given to those who will reside in the 53 planned homes.
He has called for Tonawanda to focus its sewer work in the First Ward, where residents are struggling to combat ongoing flooding problems. Davis has also questioned why Pilozzi made the pavilion a priority in light of economic issues and a lack of development downtown — a challenge he said he is prepared to tackle.
“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 Tuesday.
Pilozzi, a veteran who was on the council for eight years and has been mayor since 2006, 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. He conceded the race Tuesday night and wished Davis the best.
“The bottom line is I did the best I could financially and in every other way for the city,” Pilozzi said Tuesday at a gathering of local Republicans. “It’s a democracy, the people spoke, and I’m OK with that.”
Pilozzi noted that he wished he could work with the new Republican candidates that were elected to the council, as the body was previously controlled by Democrats. Two-term councilman Richard Slisz’s comments Tuesday night highlighted the tenuous relationship between the mayor and some council members.
“We had to watch him like a horse, because he was a slippery guy, and we finally caught him,” Slisz, a Democrat who lost his re-election bid Tuesday, said.
During the campaign, Pilozzi 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.
He said Tuesday that the project may have been misunderstood by voters.
“It is a good project for the city, and bringing in new families bodes well,” he said. “But the project was made to look like it was all my idea, and it wasn’t. Now, it is his and the council’s call.”
After more than 20 years in city politics, he said he hopes to spend time with his grandchildren come Jan. 1.
“I don’t think people realized how much time I put into this job,” he said.
Contact reporterJessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley.