Politicks, “PolyTRICKS,” and Disrespect
It seems like everybody is talking about the way a former elected official acted last Saturday at the Delavan/Grider Community Center during a community breakfast. It was hosted by Republican candidate for Erie County Family Court, Brenda Freedma. Ms. Freedma and her campaign committee got off to a good start. The food was delicious and everyone seemed to be in a good mood.
But the atmosphere turned ‘ugly’ after the candidates running for the Masten District were allowed to speak.
Two of the candidates were present, Sharon Belton-Cottman and Ulysees O. Wingo, and they were given an opportunity to talk about their campaign issues. Both candidates presented well and they each got recognition and polite applause from the people.
What happened after that is what a lot of people felt was very rude and unfair. Former Councilmember Demone Smith got up to speak in a publicly funded community center and publicly endorsed one of the candidates, Mr. Ulysees O. Wingo. Someone later told me that not only did he put the community center’s 501-C3 in jeopardy, he compromised his own employment at the federally funded BETC.
Mr. Smith added insult to injury when he belittled Mrs. Belton-Cottman’s candidacy by stating that younger people (as if getting older is a liability) needed a chance to be elected. As a senior citizen who is still volunteering my time and donating my money to my community, I was outraged and personally insulted. Mr. Smith had no right to publicly embarrass Mrs. Cottman regarding her age or to question her ability to serve as the Masten District Councilmember.
He really carried on in a bad way. He said Mrs. Cottman was unable to get along with people. But that’s not true. I guess he was talking about her strong stand and advocacy for our children on the Buffalo Board of Education! It was unbelievable beause to most of us, Sharon Belton-Cottman has been that voice for our children on the board. When former Buffalo School Superintendent, Dr. Pam Brown and the other Black female Board members were being demonized and called names there was no outcry from then Councilmember Smith. He did not come to their defense. It was Sharon Belton-Cottman and the minority women school board members themselves, and a few other community residents who stood tall and demanded respect for all who serve our children.
The candidates are trying to be decent and stick to the issues. In addition to owing Mrs. Belton-Cottman a public apology, Mr. Smith needs to apologize to this community, especially the voters of the Masten District (many of them senior citizens who were in the room) who put their trust and faith in him in all of his prior Masten District Councilmember elections .
-A Very Disappointed Senior Citizen
Name Held Upon Request