Primary contest for Buffalo mayor pits incumbent against two challengers


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – It’s a three-way contest for Buffalo mayor in next month’s Democratic primary.

“I think it’s Byron Brown’s to lose,” said Kevin Hardwick, a political scientist at Canisius College and Republican Erie County legislator.

Hardwick says Brown has all the advantages of incumbency; money, name recognition and a record to run on.

“The general impression is that things after decades of decline, Buffalo is finally moving — whether that’s because of him or he’s just there to take credit for it really doesn’t matter. It’s probably a combination of the two. I mean he has accomplishments,” said Hardwick.

Then there’s city Comptroller Mark Schroeder who’s looking to stop Brown from winning a fourth term.

Hardwick says Schroeder needs to mount an effective advertising campaign, stay on message and energize supporters to turnout at the polls.

“That’s where the mayor has a huge advantage because the mayor has a Democratic organization behind him. The mayor has done this before, and the mayor is quite frankly very good at getting out the vote on Primary Day,” Hardwick added.

Erie County legislator Betty Jean Grant is another Democratic rival looking to lead the city.

Hardwick says he wouldn’t put any money on Grant to win the mayoral primary — but doesn’t count her out.

“She’s surprised people in the past. Lightning could strike again,” he said.

Neither Grant nor Schroeder will be successful in unseating the three-term mayor, according to Erie County Democratic Committee chairman Jeremy Zellner whose party is backing Brown’s candidacy.

“He is the strong and steady leader of this city,” said Zellner.

“I think his opponents don’t have a whole lot of time to make a case why they should be the mayor, and that’s what ultimately you have to do when you’re taking on an incumbent,” he said.

The three candidates are set to square off in a lived televised debate that can be seen on the C-W 23 and WIVB.com Thursday night at 7:00 pm.

The debate, which will be moderated by News 4’s Al Vaughters, is sponsored by the Buffalo Association of Black Journalists.

Here is the mission statement of the Buffalo Association of Black Journalists:

As an affiliate of the National Association of Black Journalists, the world’s largest media organization for people of color, the Buffalo Association of Black Journalists  chapter helps minority organizations better utilize the media.

It  is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to getting expanded and more balanced media coverage of minorities and increasing minority representation at both the staff and management levels in Western New York newsrooms.

The BABJ also monitors media coverage of minorities and reports to the community, and holds workshops for groups that seek media coverage. 

The BABJ also prepares minority students for careers in print and broadcast journalism, awards an annual scholarship to African-American students interested in journalism, and sponsors a youth news radio show to teach young people about journalism. 

Using community forums, workshops, political debates, and a variety of other means, the BABJ works to: 

(a) Advance the interests of blacks in the journalistic profession and make available  members to serve as role models and mentors for students interested in journalism;

(b) Strengthen ties among blacks in all media;

(c) Sensitize the media and the community to racism in news coverage and employment practices;

(d) Sponsor scholarships for students to ensure continued representation of blacks in the media;

(e) Assist black journalists in enhancing their skills;

(f)  Assist community groups in accessing the media to tell their stories.

Journalists, media-related professionals and members of the general public interested in joining may contact any officer, attend a BABJ meeting or call 849-5598 for more information.

Primary Day is September 12th.

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