BUFFALO (WKBW) Up until Saturday, the race to become Buffalo's mayor was a two man race, between current Mayor Byron Brown and his challenger, Sergio Rodriguez. That field expanded to three over the weekend, as Bernie Tolbert officially threw his hat in the ring.
"Today, I am announcing my candidacy for Mayor of the City of Buffalo," Tolbert said to applause Saturday morning in front of supporters, as the former special agent in charge of the Buffalo FBI and former head of NBA security made it official that he is vying for the city's top job.
But without the Democratic party endorsement, Tolbert faces a tough challenge going against an incumbent Mayor in Byron Brown.
"Without question it's an uphill battle, but I've faced uphill battles my entire life," Tolbert said.
And despite the challenges of a primary against a well supported and well funded sitting mayor, Tolbert says his goal is clear.
"I'm in it not as a wild card, not as a spoiler. I'm in it for one reason, and one reason only, and that's to win," he said confidently.
Across town, Mayor Brown's other competition, Sergio Rodriguez, opened his campaign headquarters and responded to the new candidate in the field.
"We always welcome competition and I think it is a healthy thing in democracy when there are more people competing for the top job in the city," Rodriguez said.
The Republican acknowledged that a Democratic primary could help him, with the mayor forced to spend money and face tough issues, says his focus remains on November's general election.
"To us it's a non factor in how we approach this candidacy. We're focused on education, crime, poverty and unemployment," Rodriguez added.
Eyewitness News reached out to a spokesperson for Mayor Brown, and received this statement in response:
"I'm very proud of what we've accomplished and the great progress we have made together in Buffalo. And I look forward to sharing my record with the voters of Buffalo."