Pat Darte will officially be seeking re-election for lord mayor of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Darte made the announcement at Pillitteri Estates Winery on Tuesday, alongside local resident Joe Pillitteri, who will be his campaign chair for this election.
Pillitteri started off the announcement with a few words about why he’s decided to back Darte, despite a tendency to stay away from politics.
“I felt it was important to get behind Pat Darte because he’s had a track record of bringing a voice of consistency to this town. We’ve had unparalleled growth in tourism and in people moving to Niagara, and it’s not an easy job for any councillor or any mayor to manage that, but I think he’s done — in light of that — an outstanding job,”
He said he part of the reason he felt it was important to get involved in Darte’s campaign is “negativity” that has surrounded many aspects of local politics, especially recently with conflict over contentious issues like development, and groups that are “writing nasty things about a person or his intentions.”
“I know that they’re unjustified and I know that they’re untrue, so it’s important for me to get the right message out,” Pillitteri said, noting the campaign is planned to be entirely positive in its message.
“We’ve got nothing bad to say about anybody else or any other candidate. This is focusing on what the opportunity in the next four years is, building on what we’ve done so far.”
Pillitteri said he thinks it’s important for people to respect all parts of the town, “including growth and industry.”
He spoke of traits he said admires about Darte, such as his positive attitude — even in the face of people saying things he “knows aren’t true” about him.
“I know his level of integrity, and I know what his intentions are, and it’s upsetting to me to read anything to the contrary,” he said.
“So it’s really the reason I decided to put my name behind him and help him in any way I can.”
Pillitteri said he also respects how Darte gives back to the community — often “behind the scenes,” noting the mayor was involved in philanthropic efforts 15 years before he was a politician.
Darte followed to say a few words of thanks to those who’ve supported him throughout the last four years on council, and point out the accomplishments he’s most proud of during the last four years.
He noted a 13.5 per cent growth in Niagara’s population since 2011, as well as a variety of projects council has completed this term, notably the Voices of Freedom park on Regent Street, which is set to open in September.
The property, he said, was up for sale by the Town at the time the current council took over, and that they immediately took it off the market and found a way to keep it in the town and make something special out of it.
He said the last couple years have been “a challenge” for council.
“But we got through it and we got a lot of stuff accomplished.”
He said he decided to run, and bring forward a positive campaign based on the positivity of NOTL residents.
“There’s a song by Bing Crosby in 1943 and it’s called accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative. So if you want to have a happy life, that’s what you’ve got to do,” Darte said.
“If we took everything, and put it all in the positive spin, we could accomplish so much … a good debate is OK, but a debate about stuff that’s been made up doesn’t serve anybody’s side.”