Buffalo News Editorial Board: Brown has earned a fifth term as Buffalo mayor

Byron W. Brown has been an effective and diligent mayor for Buffalo and, even if he were facing more credible challengers, would probably warrant election to the historic fifth term he seeks.

That’s true despite the fact that he ducked a debate with his two opponents – India Walton and Le’Candice Durham – and that he has perfected the art of answering questions with long strings of words that sound good but say little. That’s the long and short of it as city Democrats prepare to vote in the June 22 primary that will be tantamount to election in an overwhelmingly Democratic city where no Republican is on the mayoral ballot. We endorse Brown.

Start with this: You don’t start a political career as the chief executive of a good-size American city, especially if you’ve never led a large organization in the past. Experience counts, and Brown has decades of it. In elective office, that begins with five years on the Buffalo Common Council, six years in the New York State Senate, nearly four as chairman of the New York State Democratic Party and, come January, 16 years as mayor of the state’s second-largest city.

Absent some scandal or other disqualifier, that matters. This is not an entry-level job. As persistent and romantic an idea as the political outsider evidently is, they don’t often succeed. The exception to the rule is former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who built a thriving and gigantic business and knew how to handle oceans of money

For all their good intentions – and they are good – neither of Brown’s opponents has a background that inspires confidence in their ability to manage so complex an operation as the City of Buffalo. In that regard alone they rule themselves out from serious consideration.

Walton, the more experienced of the two challengers, is a public school nurse who is tough-minded, genuinely concerned about her community and familiar with issues related to such subjects as police reform, housing, infrastructure and more. She radiates a self-confidence that outstrips her experience. There is surely a role for her in public life, but it may not by in elected office and certainly doesn’t begin with mayor. Some people are more effective on the outside.

Durham works for the city she wants to lead, previously in the police department and now handling calls to the 311 complaint line. Like Walton, she has a big heart and a familiarity with a number of public issues, but she has even less experience to suggest a credible candidacy. Asked about previous leadership roles, she cited her position atop a city block club. That qualifies as honorable undertaking, but as an argument for the Buffalo mayoralty, not at all.

That leaves Brown who, whatever his weaknesses, is eminently qualified and has served the city well over four terms in office. Most public executives wear out their welcome after two or three terms in office. Brown defies that phenomenon, evidenced by the lack of more credible candidates. He is engaged, productive, forward-looking and still interested.

Brown cites police reforms and strong fiscal management among his credits. Grant him the former – in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, he instituted a number of valuable changes – but question him on the latter. He’s certainly been more than adequate on financial matters, but his budgetary reliance on the city’s diminishing fund balance and on casino revenues that the Senecas owe but aren’t paying count as question marks. He could do better.

But the bottom line is that he has been a strong mayor for Buffalo, there is no reason to think he won’t continue to be, and there’s no other good choice, anyway.



Panorama Hispano is the regional news and information newspaper for Hispanic and other diverse communities.

US Hispanics are now the largest ethnic minority in the United States numbering 54.2 million as of July 2014. Serving: Buffalo, Rochester, Fredonia, Niagara Falls, NY and Erie, PA. Outside our Market area: Visit our affiliate at: http://www.impremedia.com/

Contact us: Contact@PanoramaHispanoNews.com

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