This is one of the most important races of the year,” declared Assembly Woman Crystal Peoples-Stokes during a recent press conference endorsing Bernie Tolbert for Erie County Sheriff. She could not have been more correct.

Over the years this newspaper has received countless letters from inmates about deplorable conditions and all too often physical abuse - at the Erie County Holding Center and the Erie County Correctional Facility at Alden.

The man that Bernie Tolbert is running to replace, Sheriff Timothy B. Howard, should have been gone a long time ago. Under his watch, the number of inmate deaths by suicide and abuse, lawsuits, criminal investigations and mismanagement, have been well documented. Your vote is critical in that it can help bring about much needed change and restore civility and transparency to this law enforcement agency.

That’s why it’s so important that you go to the polls next Tuesday and elect Bernie Tolbert as the next Erie County Sheriff. Tolbert – despite withstanding the slings and arrows of outrageous political attack ads – has run a commendable, above board campaign. His “issues that matter” include the County Holding Center, street violence, the heroin and opioid epidemic and guaranteeing justice for all. Bernie is no stranger to the inner city.

Buffalo born, he was raised in the Willert Park Housing Project by his amazing mother, where respect and education was stressed. He went on to earn a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Social Work. Over the years his career choices have included serving as FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Buffalo Office; and Vice President of Security, Coca Cola, HSBC Bank and the NBA – a total of 20 years of solid law enforcement experience.

Mr. Tolbert is no lightweight and he retuned home to this area several years ago to lend his skills and expertise to help build a city, county and community we can all be proud of. Bernie Tolbert is the only, and best choice in the upcoming election. He has the integrity, intelligence, temperament and high level experience to make the Erie County Sheriff’s Department one of the best in the country. Political hopefuls like Mr.Tolbert come along only once in a great while. That is why we are so proud to endorse his candidacy! And why, as a community, we can’t afford to miss out on this opportunity to elect him to this important position. Please join us in voting for Bernie Tolbert, Democrat, for Erie County Sheriff on Tuesday, November7!


Mayor Brown Endorses Bernie Tolbert For Erie County Sheriff!

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown has endorsed Democrat Bernie Tolbert for Erie County Sheriff.

“It is now more important than ever that we elect leaders who can build on our successes and continue to move our city and our county forward,” said Mayor Brown. “Erie County residents deserve a sheriff who creates a system for accountability, and ensures “justice for all. To that end, Bernie Tolbert has the professional experience to serve as the county’s top law enforcement officer.” In acknowledging the Mayor’s support, Tolbert spoke of future collaboration in ensuring the safety of Erie County. “It is a great honor to have the endorsement of Mayor Brown, a leader whose service to the City of Buffalo has strengthened our city and our region.

His leadership has made Buffalo smarter, safer, and I pledge to work closely with Mayor Brown and all county and municipal partners to continue to expand on this progress.” Bernie Tolbert is the former Special Agent in charge of the FBI’s Buffalo office overseeing the Western New York region. He has more than 30 years of professional experience at the highest levels of law enforcement and corporate security. Born and raised in Buffalo, Mr. Tolbert holds a master degree in social work from the SUNY Buffalo and worked in education and social work in Erie County before launching a career with the FBI. Mr. Tolbert’s campaign platform features four primary agenda items: Clean up the County jails and restore pride and professionalism to the Erie County Sheriff’s Office; Beat the opioid and heroin addiction epidemic ravaging Erie County; Collaboratively work to turn back the tide of rising street crime and restore a culture of respect and civility.

Get Out And Vote Rally November 4

For Erie County Sheriff Candidate BERNIE TOLBERT

A Get Out And Vote Rally for Erie County Sheriff Candidate BERNIE TOLBERT will be held Saturday, November 4, from 3:30 PM - 5:30 PM at the Reverend Dr. Bennett W. Smith SR Family Life Center, 833 Michigan Center. Special Guests will include Erie County Democratic Chair- Jeremy Zellner and all the Democrat General Election candidates running for office on Tuesday, November 7th .

    Mayor Brown

    Mayor Brown

Brown Wins Historic 4th Term! These were the election results at press time: Incumbent Mayor Byron Brown has won reelection to a 4th historic term, making him the city’s first Black mayor and only the second Buffalo mayor to be elected to serve 16 Years! Former Mayor Jimmy Griffin was the first. Congratulations Mayor Brown!

       April Baskin

       April Baskin

Also: In the hotly contested race for the Erie County Legislator, newcomer April Baskin, the endorsed Democratic candidate, won in this her first political election to become the 2nd District Legislator. She will fill the seat held by Betty Jean Grant . Congratulations Ms. Baskin!

More coverage next week.

We Endorse Betty Jean Grant For Mayor "It Is Time" 

On Tuesday, September 12, Primary Election Day, voters will go to the polls to vote for their choice for mayor.

For residents of this community, it is an especially important vote because regardless of the city’s progress over all, there remains, as former Council Member James Pitts so aptly describes it, “a hole in the donut.” And that “hole" is our community which has basically been neglected for the past 12 years. The “hole” is also symbolic of the oftentimes painful disconnect between the current mayor and the people who have been his staunchest supporters. Despite the many beautiful and talented people surrounding him, the examples of this “disconnect” could fill a book.

Mr. Brown may get an A for being “a productive partner in Buffalo’s revival.” But he gets an F for neglecting the East side and the people who have been his most loyal supporters .

Betty Jean Grant, in the spirit of her former friend and political colleague, the late Beverly Gray, entered this race to give voters a real choice. And we proudly endorse her in her bold effort to become the next Mayor of the City of Buffalo.

Betty is a community activist who happens to be a politician – and a very good one at that. She is fair, committed, knowledgeable and unafraid to take a stand and speak out for what is right on behalf of those she was elected to represent.

Her candidacy represents an exciting alternative. It is also potentially historic as should she win, she will become the first female mayor of this city. And she will be a good one. Betty Jean Grant, an experienced lawmaker, has promised to leave no neighborhood behind; to improve the police department; to fight gentrification, support our schools, and more. 

There is still much work to be done on so many levels ; so many wrongs to correct and make right; so many fences to mend and relationships to build. Sadly what Mr. Brown didn’t do for us in 12 years we doubt he will be able to - or even willing to do - in the next four. We need a mayor who is connected, committed, caring, inclusive and fearless; someone who will make good on their vision for a better Buffalo "on the move" for every community..

In this race, that person is Betty Jean Grant. We invite our readers to join us in voting for her for Mayor on Primary Election Day Tuesday September 12!

Betty Jean Grant

"My Candidacy for Mayor of Buffalo is Driven by Need and Neglect "

In what would have been my reelection bid for a 5th term in the Erie County Legislature, representing the 2nd District, many in the community were shocked when I opted to make a run for the Mayor of Buffalo race instead. I thought long and hard about why I was running, what I could bring to the position that would be beneficial to the city, overall and finally, would I have enough trust and support from the voters to make a viable run for the seat. Why I am running can be easily answered by traveling down any eastside or lower west side street and witnessing, first hand, the neglect and the non distribution of city resources in the neighborhoods and commercial strips where these streets are located.

Potholes from last year's winter season still remain unfilled and causing major car tires damages as well as knocking one's car out of alignment. Senior citizens waiting forever for the federal housing grants to fix their house's city code violations or replace the leaky roof that they have been trying to get financial help for. These Seniors and low income individuals did their part and applied for the funds in a timely fashion but are forced to wait months and most times, years, for the application to be finalized and processed. T

he greatest attribute I bring to this election bid is my freedom, independence and my willingness to advocate for those who are reaping the benefits and services they are obligated to receive as taxpaying citizens of Buffalo. I am owned and controlled by no entity other than the voters who will elect me to the position as the mayor and chief executive of this great city. Over my political career that has spanned over 18 years, serving as council member, school board member and currently as county legislator, I have purposely not solicited or taken money from the big developers who seem to have such a lock on this city and most of its elected representatives.

I have not been lured by huge campaign contributions that could come from the Carl Paladinos and LP Ciminellis of the construction world and that, most times, come back and tie the hands and close the mouths of those who have forgotten who put them in office, in the first place! Finally, the question of will the voters support me was loudly answered by my campaign collecting almost 7,000 signatures from duly registered Democratic voters who voiced strong support for my candidacy and for my campaign to become the first female mayor of this city. Many of those who signed my signature petition stated that they believe that I would do the right thing for both them and the city, as a whole.

I am honored that they put their trust in my ability to lead this city forward. I am committed to making Buffalo a great place for all to live, work and benefit from the renaissance and revitalization that are certainly taking place. It is my solemn promise that, under my mayoral administration, no neighborhood will be forgotten, not funded or left behind.


 

We Endorse Charlie Fisher For Legislator 2nd District

It’s unusual that you get three good candidates seeking the same seat. That is the case in the race for Legislator for the 2nd District.

April Baskin, Charley Fisher III and Dunkin Kirkwood, are all impressive. And that’s encouraging. However of the three, Charley Fisher stands out in terms of unmatched experience and of having a proven track record in this city for advocacy on behalf of this community. And that is why we proudly endorse him in this election.

Charley is a natural replacement for Betty Jean Grant’s seat. He has served under Mrs. Grant as well as former Deputy Speaker Arthur O. Eve and as a former Council Member. Committed and uncompromising in his fight for what is right, Charley started out in politics as a young man with the civil rights organization BUILD .

He has been active ever since. Knowledgeable and savvy – if elected he will be able to hit the ground running. Charley has always been passionate about his community and his people. He most recently won support from some of the city’s political icons such as James Pitts and George K. Arthur who referred to him as “unbought and unbossed.”

Ms. Baskin and Mr. Kirkwood are two of our brightest and best and we are grateful that they are ready to take on a leadership role. However in this critical, unfriendly political climate, experience matters, and Charley Fisher is the most experienced candidate in this race hands down. Please join us in voting for Charley Fisher III for 2nd District Legislator on Primary Day, September 12!

 

Mayoral Candidates Debate The Issues

THE CANDIDATES: Mayor Brown, LegislatorGrant and Comptroller Schroeder.

THE CANDIDATES: Mayor Brown, LegislatorGrant and Comptroller Schroeder.

Brown staunchly defends his 12 year record in the face of strong criticism from Grant and Schroeder for what they say is Brown's disconnect - charging that he has neglected many neighborhoods and residents as he focuses on downtown and the waterfront development.

In overflow crowd packed into the Burchfield Penny Art Center last Thursday for the much anticipated Mayoral debate which was hosted by the Buffalo Association of Black Journalists. For 90 minutes, citizens got a chance to hear candidates respond to a number of important issues. It was the first time, said moderator Al Vaughters of WIBV-TV, that three elected officials were vying for the office of Mayor for the City of Buffalo at the same time.

Opening Statements City Comptroller Mark Schroeder touted his “new vision for Buffalo” where “everybody will have a seat at the table…and no neighborhood will be left behind.” Referencing his 5 ½ years in office, he said he knows how to fix mismanagement in the city. He introduced his “Compass Plan” which he said would offer direction for the city and all its residents. His platform includes providing comprehensive training for City of Buffalo police and a work plan to attack a myriad of problems that effects neighborhoods.

Legislator Betty Jean Grant said she was running because she was the best qualified candidate for the job. Known for her work in the community, she went right in to declare that she would not “engage in pay to play politics.” City Hall, she continued “would not be for sale to the highest bidder.” Her platform includes creating a budget of inclusiveness and working with council members to have streets paved, sidewalks fixed and homicides reduced and solved. In addition, she said she would hire a New police commissioner, push to make the Central Terminal the home for the new Train Station and direct millions of federal block grant funds to the neighborhoods, to remove poverty and blight. “I will have a new Buffalo that will include all of Buffalo not just parts.

” Mayor Brown, immediately putting on his “defense of my record” armor, opened by describing a city on its way out when he came in.  “When I started as Mayor Buffalo was in fiscal crisis,” he said, pointing out that the state had placed the city under a financial control board; city wages were frozen; neighborhoods blighted with hundreds of vacant and dilapidated structures and more. To his administration’s credit he said, the city’s finances have been stabilized and its economy improved; he passed 12 balanced budgets with huge surpluses; over 600 vacant buildings have been demolished; investments in city schools increased; crime reduced; and “our municipal ratings higher than it’s ever been.” All this without raising taxes on homeowners and businesses. “I am asking for your vote…to continue the work we started together…to continue to build a Buffalo of opportunity for all people.” The first question from the panel was on gun violence and what ideas the candidates had to reduce or eliminate the scourge.

Legislator Grant offered placing checkpoints at towns bordering the city suggesting “if the points are done within the city, they should not just be done in one area. She said she would also focus on establishing job training programs at area centers for young minority men who are suffering a 35-45% unemployment rate.

Mayor Brown, reflecting on his record, suggested that education and providing jobs would go a long way to prevent a life of crime. He cited millions that the city has invested in Say Yes Buffalo and other academic areas. “We’re spending the highest amount of money in the history of the city of Buffalo, putting our youth to work in the summertime…that has been very successful in showing our youth alternatives to violence,” said Brown.

Schroeder begged to differ. “Mr. Mayor all due respect you’ve had 12 years and the results are not good enough,” he retorted. He cited “over 550 shootings and 46 homicides in 2016. Today there are 55 gangs in the city of Buffalo and over 700 gang members, he continued. His plan to help solve the problem he said, includes his “Compass Plan” - a one stop shop for neighborhood development and his “Ezekiel Program” - to aid troubled youth and help families in the City of Buffalo. “We can do better Mr. Mayor, you’ve had 12 year to do better.”

The Mayor shot back by accusing Schroeder of refusing to vote to take a guns out of the hands of children as young as 11 years old while serving in the NYS Assembly or to advance background checks for guns. “Why didn’t you talk about your Ezekiel plan when you were a member of the NYS assembly Mr. Comptroller?

Schroeder, reflecting on his politics as an independent at the time, admitted making mistakes. but said that he had learned from them as he continues to move forward. Does Buffalo Have a race problem? “There is systemic racism that continues on in the City of Buffalo” said Schroder., adding that there is also an education gap, and a criminal justice. He chided the Mayor for allowing police check points primarily on the East side of town – a decision he said, made solely by the Mayor and the police commissioner.

Brown called Schroeder’s comments “ridiculous” and said the checkpoints were merely traffic safety stops as a result of citizens who complained about speeding, loud (loud what? )etc. He said that his administration has hired the most diverse employees in the history of the city of Buffalo with more Black, Latino and Women in management level positions.

Legislator Grant said Buffalo has more of a “Classism and elitism” problem than a race problem. As an example, she said, “there are Port-A-Potties in MLK Park and the restrooms are closed. You go to Canalside and they have air conditioned restrooms…”

The issue of new housing and gentrification elicited strong response from Grant who made clear that the new housing was for the people in the community. “it is for those who work in the Medical Corridor. It’s for those we who will be going to school at UB Medial School. It is for those who will be working for the new Children’s Hospital. It’s not for the residents,” she said referencing a Buffalo News article. “You are not building for the community. Why are you pretending? We need a Mayor, she continued, who will say we’re not going to force the people out who’ve been here…We have to protect our city because they stayed when nobody wanted to be here. “The issue” she said, is gentrification.

Brown countered that he could run off a list of many affordable housing projects in the city such as Holy Family apartments in South Buffalo and Parkview Apartments on Fillmore and Best “done by an African American Female developer.” He also said that his administration was concerned about affordability in the City of Buffalo and that he will be releasing a housing strategy soon and a comprehensive plan to build mixed income houses.

Schroeder said that there are many good neighborhoods that should be protected. “They should stay that way…and not be pushed out by the developers who are coming in doing whatever it is they want to do…Why is it that in the Fruit Belt there is an organization that has land bank trust volunteers because they do not trust the city of Buffalo or Erie County. These are people in the neighborhoods who are fearful.

Also during the debate: *Brown said Schroeder and Grant were attacking his record “because I have one”. *Schroeder said Brown needs to release a report on his “Opportunity Pledge” initiated a few years ago, as well as compliance and MWBE statistics. The opportunity Pledge touted to encourage businesses and institutions to be more diverse and inclusive. *Brown accused the Comptroller of not advocating for jobs for people of color or women when he was in the Assembly. Schroeder denied the charge and told Brown he “should be ashamed of himself. Tell the truth and shame the devil” he admonished the mayor. *Schroeder accused the Brown administration of restructuring the BMHA just before the Primary election and said the BMHA was guilty of gross mismanagement.Both he and Legislator Grant cited the deplorable condition of some of the BMHA housing projects. The Democratic Primary is Tuesday, September 12