BUFFALO N.Y. (WKBW) — In announcing his write-in campaign for mayor after a shocking primary defeat by challenger India B. Walton, Mayor Byron W. Brown urged people to visit his campaign website, where a Google form was posted urging supporters to “sign the pledge to write down Byron Brown.
The next day, Brown’s campaign released a list of more than 1,000 names of supporters who were described as “individuals who live or work in the City of Buffalo” and who support the mayor.
The 7 Eyewitness News I-Team examined that list and found more than 100 names of high-profile figures in the political and business community, including three members of the Buffalo Common Council, a SUNY trustee, a New York State regent and a member of the Buffalo School Board.
Also listing their names as supporters were downtown developers, big-name attorneys and a sports executive. And Buffalo families with names like Masiello, Sedita, Makowski and Crangle whose involvement in local politics stretches back decades.
“I do see that as a positive,” Brown said in an interview. “It’s gratifying, it's humbling, it's heartwarming. And that list continues to build every single day.”
But Walton’s campaign sees the involvement of Buffalo’s power brokers differently.
“We're not concerned about developers, at least not in a political sense, at this moment,” said De’Jon Hall, a Walton campaign volunteer. “We're more concerned with the everyday struggle of the people of Buffalo.”
It’s a sign of a fundamental difference in the way the two candidates, by their own accounts, are running for the city’s top office.
The four-term incumbent, who received thousands in last-minute donations from Buffalo business luminaries like the Jacobs family and the Rich family, said he wants to bring all Buffalonians together to face the city’s challenges, regardless of income or status.
“Not disenfranchising people, not separating ourselves from each other, not saying, ‘You can't participate because you've made some money,’ or ‘You can't participate because you haven't made enough money,’” Brown said.
But Hall, an ex-officio member of Buffalo’s Police Advisory Board, said his candidate has already brought people together. His message to residents of the East and West sides, who turned out in large numbers for Walton in the primary, is that if they feel forgotten by City Hall now, they won’t stay that way for long.
“I think they were forgotten until June 22, when they decided to use their voice and vote for some change,” Hall said. “When they voted for India Walton, those folks who felt that way clearly expressed it.”
The general election is November 2. Walton will appear on the Democratic line, while Brown is waging a write-in campaign. Buffalo Republicans did not field a candidate for the mayoral race.