BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — On Thursday, Democratic nominee for mayor India Walton, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and two other candidates gathered at the Frank E. Merriweather, Jr. Library for a debate ahead of the November 2 election for Mayor of Buffalo.
India Walton started by addressing concerns about defunding the police, saying she would work with the common council to have police reallocate funds aimed at police fighting crime better, and that funds would be reallocated to help with community programs in the city.
The first question goes to @Indiawaltonbflo about her plan for police reform: “My plan is to free police to do police work, stop crime.”— Natalie Fahmy (@NatalieFahmy) September 9, 2021
Mayor Brown criticized Walton's plan to "defund the police" to which Walton said that her plan is a responsible use of taxpayer money.
Both Ben Carlisle and Jaz Miles said they would not "defund the police".
Mayor Brown then expressed his qualifications for mayor by referencing his 16 years in office.
All three of Walton, Carlisle, and Miles referenced that they are political outsiders.
Miles criticized Brown for crime in the city, to which Brown responded by saying that crime has gone up in all cities during the pandemic.
@MayorByronBrown talks to the crime rate in Buffalo: “all cities during the pandemic have seen an increase in crime”— Natalie Fahmy (@NatalieFahmy) September 9, 2021
On development, Carlisle said he is in favor of development in the city as long as there's transparency, while Miles said dilapidated buildings needed to be torn down.
India Walton referenced her work with the Fruit Belt Land Trust to which Mayor Brown said that she did not build any houses, Walton responded by saying she built two houses with the land trust.
Carlisle, Miles, and Walton all said that there should be term limits for elected officials.
On Climate, Walton said that the city needs to reverse the trend being caused by climate change, while Mayor Brown said the city has increased its focus on climate and that recycling is at the highest level in the city.
ON CLIMATE: @Indiawaltonbflo “we are dangerously close to the tipping point and we have to reverse that” @MayorByronBrown “we’ve increased our climate focus in the city of Buffalo…recycling is now at the highest level in the city of Buffalo”— Natalie Fahmy (@NatalieFahmy) September 9, 2021
On schools, India Walton said that the mayor's office should not have control over the schools, while Miles, Carlisle, and Brown all said that the mayor's office should have control over schools and that if he was able to, Mayor Brown would have control over the schools but the state did not allow him to do so.
Walton said that she would love a Bills stadium in downtown Buffalo, but not at the cost of displacing communities and at the hands of taxpayers.
Brown said he would also love for the Bills to be in Buffalo but believes it's not feasible and has had discussions with the Pegulas.
Carlisle said he would also want the Bills to be in Buffalo and would do anything to keep them in Buffalo, while Miles was more focused on bringing back the Buffalo Braves to Buffalo.
Mayor Brown addressed housing concerns by saying that the city is working on development for housing.
Both Carlisle and Miles said that rules need to be followed when it comes to housing and development.
Walton said the city needs to create permanent housing.
DEVELOPMENT ON THE EAST SIDE OF BUFFALO: @MayorByronBrown “development is coming to this community and there is more on the way” @Indiawaltonbflo “we have to create permanent housing. It’s the resources that have not been distributed that’s the problem.”— Natalie Fahmy (@NatalieFahmy) September 10, 2021
On civic participation, Walton said that it starts with getting people educated at a young age and stressed the importance of civic participation.
Brown referenced the city's block chat that he claims is helping connect the public with civic participation.
Carlisle and Miles both stressed the importance of civic participation.
On violence, Mayor Brown said that the city is working to get guns off the street and he would work with law enforcement to bring crime down.
Carlisle attributed crime to lock downs, while Miles said he would advocate for capital punishment.
Walton said she work on crime prevention through environmental designs, while asking for streets to be lit better.
Brown, Carlisle, and Miles all said they would not raise taxes while Walton was proposing a "modest" tax increase.
@Indiawaltonbflo is the only, of four candidates, to say she will increase taxes. “Unfortunately we are going to have to look at a modest incremental tax increase” @MayorByronBrown “During my tenure as mayor we have held or cut taxes.”— Natalie Fahmy (@NatalieFahmy) September 10, 2021
Walton said that she would call on the state and federal government to hold gun manufacturers accountable.
Mayor Brown said that the city of Buffalo cannot hold gun manufacturers liable to which Walton said that she didn't call on the city to hold gun manufacturers accountable, rather the state and federal government.
Carlisle and Miles both said they support the second amendment and would not change gun control laws.
On her first 100 days, Walton said she would work to be out in the community and find the city's wants and needs and would work on getting a team together to "get the city back on track."
Brown said he'll continue doing what he's doing which is "knocking on doors and being out in the public."
Walton said she felt like she didn't need to be at the debate since she won the Democratic party.
Carlisle said that he hopes to get to work with his constituents and with city hall, while Miles says he hopes to get police back on track during his first 100 days.
On community service, Walton said that people have always called on her when she's needed, while Brown said that the city has worked to provide food to first responders and to schools.
COMMUNITY SERVICE: @Indiawaltonbflo “When people need help they call me. Service is what I do, it’s what I’ve always done.” @MayorByronBrown “I’ve given back to the community over the years. During the pandemic we provided food to people, to first responders, to schools.”— Natalie Fahmy (@NatalieFahmy) September 10, 2021
On marijuana, both Brown and Walton said they plan on making sure communities of color have access to growing marijuana and owning businesses.
In closing remarks, Brown said that he is asking for prayers and votes on November 2, while Walton said that change is needed in city hall.