Jan. 25—TOWN OF NIAGARA — A top Falls cop has thrown his hat into the ring for an anticipated open seat on the Niagara Town Board.
Falls Deputy Police Superintendent Michael Lee announced last week that he will be a candidate for a board seat in the November general election. Because the town board seats are part-time positions, Lee would be expected to continue in his role as the city's deputy police superintendent.
Lee has also worked as a part-time Town of Niagara Police officer. He's exempt from the city's residency requirement.
"In July of last year, I officially stepped away from a 20-year career as a police officer serving the Town of Niagara," Lee wrote in an announcement emailed to the Gazette. "At the time many people had asked me why. Now I can finally share my reason. I am officially announcing my candidacy for Town of Niagara council."
The town appears to be in the midst of a political realignment. Long-time Supervisor Lee Wallace has announced his retirement and Town Clerk Sylvia Virtuoso has declared her candidacy to succeed him. Deputy Town Clerk Melissa Cerrillo has announced that she will run to replace Virtuoso.
At least two current town board members are also expected to seek different elective offices this fall.
"At the time I decided to leave the job that I love, I was a dedicated employee who worked long shifts and late nights," Lee wrote. "I enjoyed patrolling through our neighborhoods and talking to you, my fellow town residents. I took great pride in serving the community that for the past sixteen years, I along with my wife Jennifer have lived. A place where my family members have called home for many more."
Lee did not indicate a political party affiliation in his announcement. The town of Niagara is overwhelmingly Democratic by party enrollment.
"I now want to continue my dedicated service by being your next voice on (the) town council," Lee wrote. "My career in law enforcement has trained me to listen to people when considering a problem, to keep an open mind until gathering all the information and ultimately making a sound informed decision. I truly believe that this approach will serve our community well and it will be an honor to occupy a seat on our council."
Lee also wrote that he believes his time on the town police force has allowed him to learn and understand the complexities of town government.
"My time with the town has allowed me to foster relationships with employees and department heads, to gain a perspective of any issues that exist and best practices on how to address them," Lee said. "I am confident that I have developed the necessary skills for this important position, and I know that my law enforcement background and work history make me uniquely qualified to hold this office."