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Politics India Walton beat Buffalo's mayor once. Can she do it again?

08:25  28 october  2021
08:25  28 october  2021 Source:   msn.com

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — When India Walton beat Buffalo’s four-term mayor in a Democratic primary last June, New York’s second largest city looked like it was about to get a leader like no other in its history.

Buffalo mayoral candidate India Walton is seen during a walking tour of local businesses in Buffalo, N.Y., on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. The race for mayor of Buffalo has four-term incumbent Byron Brown relying on a write-in campaign to fend off a challenge from newcomer Walton, who identifies herself as a democratic socialist. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex) © Provided by Associated Press Buffalo mayoral candidate India Walton is seen during a walking tour of local businesses in Buffalo, N.Y., on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. The race for mayor of Buffalo has four-term incumbent Byron Brown relying on a write-in campaign to fend off a challenge from newcomer Walton, who identifies herself as a democratic socialist. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex) FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, file photo, Buffalo mayoral candidate India Walton speaks to supporters during a campaign rally in Buffalo, N.Y. The race for mayor of Buffalo has four-term incumbent Byron Brown relying on a write-in campaign to fend off a challenge from newcomer Walton, who identifies herself as a democratic socialist. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File): Election 2021 Buffalo Mayor © Provided by Associated Press Election 2021 Buffalo Mayor

She’d be its first female mayor and the first to identify as a democratic socialist. After becoming a mother at age 14, she grew up to be a nurse and strived through a lifetime of financial hardship that continued through the campaign, when her car was impounded for unpaid parking tickets.

Buffalo's India Walton won the Democratic primary for mayor. Now she has to defeat incumbent Byron Brown -- again

  Buffalo's India Walton won the Democratic primary for mayor. Now she has to defeat incumbent Byron Brown -- again On paper, India Walton is a shoo-in to become Buffalo's next mayor. The Democratic nominee, who defeated incumbent Mayor Byron Brown in a June primary, is the only name on the general election ballot for the city's top job.On paper, India Walton is a shoo-in to become Buffalo's next mayor. The Democratic nominee, who defeated incumbent Mayor Byron Brown in a June primary, is the only name on the general election ballot for the city's top job.

Buffalo mayoral candidate India Walton, right, shakes hands with Frederic Daniel, owner of Freddy J's BBQ, during a tour of local businesses with New York Sen. Sean Ryan, background, Monday, Oct. 18, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. The race for mayor of Buffalo has four-term incumbent Byron Brown relying on a write-in campaign to fend off a challenge from newcomer Walton, who identifies herself as a democratic socialist. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex): Election 2021 Buffalo Mayor © Provided by Associated Press Election 2021 Buffalo Mayor

But rather than pack up his City Hall office of 16 years, Mayor Byron Brown has stayed in the race in pursuit of his own superlatives: He’s trying to become the first person to win a major race as a write-in candidate in New York state, and — if he gets a fifth term — Buffalo’s longest-serving mayor.

“Either way it’s going to be historic,” Nazareth College political analyst Timothy Kneeland said of the race, which is yet another marquee battle between the center and left of the Democratic Party.

Brown has gained traction by reversing his strategy from largely ignoring Walton to labeling her “an unqualified radical socialist" who will defund the police and raise taxes.

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Imploring voters to “write down Byron Brown,” the mayor says he has earned another term after turning around a Rust Belt city of 280,000 that was in financial distress to one where the population and property values are rising.

FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, file photo, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, left, addresses a rally for Buffalo mayoral candidate India Walton in Buffalo, N.Y. The race for mayor of Buffalo has four-term incumbent Byron Brown relying on a write-in campaign to fend off a challenge from newcomer Walton, who identifies herself as a democratic socialist. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File): Election 2021 Buffalo Mayor © Provided by Associated Press Election 2021 Buffalo Mayor

Recent polls show potential voters favoring Brown, but his name isn’t on the ballot and it is unclear whether that support will translate into write-in votes.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Buffalo native, has steered clear of choosing sides while the state's two Democratic U.S. senators, Majority Leader Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, are backing Walton.

“Any Democrat right now that is trying to establish a precedent of not uniting behind the party’s nominee is playing a dangerous game,” U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said during a recent trip to Buffalo to rally for Walton.

FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, file photo, Buffalo mayoral candidate India Walton speaks to supporters during a campaign rally in Buffalo, N.Y. The race for mayor of Buffalo has four-term incumbent Byron Brown relying on a write-in campaign to fend off a challenge from newcomer Walton, who identifies herself as a democratic socialist. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, file photo, Buffalo mayoral candidate India Walton speaks to supporters during a campaign rally in Buffalo, N.Y. The race for mayor of Buffalo has four-term incumbent Byron Brown relying on a write-in campaign to fend off a challenge from newcomer Walton, who identifies herself as a democratic socialist. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File)

Walton, who led a small housing trust before launching her campaign, promises a new, more progressive way of doing business, saying Buffalo's comeback has left many people behind.

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“This is our city. We are the workers. We do the work. We are are sick and tired of those that have the most always getting everything,” she said at the rally with Ocasio-Cortez. The packed event also featured actress Cynthia Nixon, who unsuccessfully challenged former Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a 2018 primary with the backing of the Democratic Socialists of America, who also have endorsed Walton.

Walton, Kneeland said, is following an increasingly familiar strategy: “A progressive in a time period of great upheaval, understanding that people want change and then drawing on that energy to knock off a more moderate Democratic candidate.”

Brown has had to carefully navigate support from Republicans eager to thwart the democratic socialist candidate. He publicly declined backing from Buffalo developer and former Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino after he pushed the mayor to stay in the race.

FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, file photo, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown speaks to the media after filling out his ballot in Buffalo, N.Y. The race for mayor of Buffalo has four-term incumbent Brown relying on a write-in campaign to fend off a challenge from newcomer India Walton, who identifies herself as a democratic socialist. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, file photo, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown speaks to the media after filling out his ballot in Buffalo, N.Y. The race for mayor of Buffalo has four-term incumbent Brown relying on a write-in campaign to fend off a challenge from newcomer India Walton, who identifies herself as a democratic socialist. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File)

The Republican State Committee has promoted Brown in mailings that praise his “effective, commonsense leadership” and warn that “India Walton's radical agenda will destroy Buffalo.”

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With about 68% of registered voters who are Democrats, and 9% Republicans, general elections in the city typically hold little suspense. Brown says this one has energized him and united voters across party lines.

“This election is a choice, a clear choice between proven experience and proven results and ideas for the future versus an unqualified, radical socialist whose story has been proven to be fictitious," Brown said in an interview. He says Walton has exaggerated her accomplishments as founder of the Fruit Belt Community Land Trust.

FILE - This Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, file photo, shows supporters of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and mayoral candidate India Walton in an exchange near a polling center in Buffalo, N.Y. The race for mayor of Buffalo has four-term incumbent Brown relying on a write-in campaign to fend off a challenge from newcomer Walton, who identifies herself as a democratic socialist. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - This Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, file photo, shows supporters of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and mayoral candidate India Walton in an exchange near a polling center in Buffalo, N.Y. The race for mayor of Buffalo has four-term incumbent Brown relying on a write-in campaign to fend off a challenge from newcomer Walton, who identifies herself as a democratic socialist. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File)

Folding cheese into a pan of macaroni at Freddy J’s barbecue restaurant, owner Frederic Daniel wrestled with what “change” should look like going forward in Buffalo, whether under Brown or Walton.

“You don’t want anybody to divide a country or the state or the city,” he said, declining to reveal his choice. “Everybody has to feel like they are not left behind. When people feel like they're left behind they become very bitter.”

RESULTS: India Walton seeks to defeat current mayor Byron Brown for a 2nd time in Buffalo

  RESULTS: India Walton seeks to defeat current mayor Byron Brown for a 2nd time in Buffalo Walton, a self-described socialist, defeated Brown in a June primary challenge. But Brown is back on the ballot as a write-in candidate.Officials are expected to release Walton's vote totals and all ballots with a mayoral candidate written in starting on election night.

FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, file photo, Buffalo mayoral candidate India Walton, front left, and New York Sen. Sean Ryan take part in a walking tour of local businesses in Buffalo, N.Y. The race for mayor of Buffalo has four-term incumbent Byron Brown relying on a write-in campaign to fend off a challenge from newcomer Walton, who identifies herself as a democratic socialist. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, file photo, Buffalo mayoral candidate India Walton, front left, and New York Sen. Sean Ryan take part in a walking tour of local businesses in Buffalo, N.Y. The race for mayor of Buffalo has four-term incumbent Byron Brown relying on a write-in campaign to fend off a challenge from newcomer Walton, who identifies herself as a democratic socialist. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File)

Walton, 39, says that is just what has happened as Buffalo’s economic successes have failed to reach many poor families and neighborhoods. She has endeared herself to supporters on the strength of her personal experiences as a poor, Black single mother and nurse who started the land trust to increase affordable housing.

FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, file photo, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, right, greets Buffalo mayoral candidate India Walton during a rally in support of Walton in Buffalo, N.Y. The race for mayor of Buffalo has four-term incumbent Byron Brown relying on a write-in campaign to fend off a challenge from newcomer Walton, who identifies herself as a democratic socialist. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, file photo, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, right, greets Buffalo mayoral candidate India Walton during a rally in support of Walton in Buffalo, N.Y. The race for mayor of Buffalo has four-term incumbent Byron Brown relying on a write-in campaign to fend off a challenge from newcomer Walton, who identifies herself as a democratic socialist. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File)

“My life has not been much different than a typical person who grew up on the east side of Buffalo. I’ve survived poverty, abuse and trauma. And that’s why I’m running for mayor,” she said during a debate.

FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, file photo, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, front right, leads a group of supporters to a polling center in Buffalo, N.Y. The race for mayor of Buffalo has four-term incumbent Brown relying on a write-in campaign to fend off a challenge from newcomer India Walton, who identifies herself as a democratic socialist. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, file photo, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, front right, leads a group of supporters to a polling center in Buffalo, N.Y. The race for mayor of Buffalo has four-term incumbent Brown relying on a write-in campaign to fend off a challenge from newcomer India Walton, who identifies herself as a democratic socialist. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File)

Walton has framed legal problems in her past as evidence of the plight of the poor and working class. In 2003, she was made to repay a $295 food stamp overpayment after failing to report income on time. The following year, she and her ex-husband were cited in a $749 tax lien for unpaid income taxes, WKBW reported.

Buffalo mayor declares write-in victory over socialist who beat him in Democratic primary

  Buffalo mayor declares write-in victory over socialist who beat him in Democratic primary Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown declared victory in his write-in campaign to retain his seat, saying he had defeated Democratic nominee and socialist India Walton. “Today’s election was not just a referendum on the direction of the city of Buffalo, it was a referendum on the future of our democracy and our vision for our future,” Brown said late Tuesday night. Brown, a four-term incumbent, turned to a write-in campaign after losing the June primary to Walton. With a majority of the vote counted, “write-ins” held a double-digit lead in the race.

In 2014, she was arrested after a colleague at a hospital accused her of harassment — a charge later dismissed. Walton said it was a verbal disagreement and she's since matured.

When her car was impounded, Walton on Twitter pointed to the challenge of being a “low-income single mother enrolled in Medicaid” and criticized such fines and fees as predatory in a city where 30% of residents live in poverty.

That message has resonated with many.

“It's really heartbreaking that the Black homeownership rate in Buffalo is so low,” said former state Sen. Antoine Thompson, a real estate agent who has worked on Brown's campaigns but is supporting Walton because of her focus on affordable housing.

Her lack of experience, though, has been an issue for some voters. She's never held public office. That was the deciding factor for Darnell Cummings, a 34-year-old career counselor who voted for Brown.

“Let’s say you’re in the hospital,” he said. “Do you want someone that’s had 15, 16 years of experience performing surgery on you or do you want someone who ... hasn’t been to medical school?”

In a political career that has stretched 25 years, Brown already has logged notable firsts. He is Buffalo's first Black mayor. He was the first Black candidate to win a New York state senate seat outside of New York City and the first to win in a white majority district.

Brown has found his support from construction unions and law enforcement after hitting hard at Walton’s plans to cut $7.5 million from the police budget as part of what she says is a more holistic approach to address the root causes of crime. Brown at a debate called that “clearly defunding police.”

His television spots featured people identifying themselves as some of the 100 police officers that he said were bound to lose their jobs with a Walton win.

Walton denies she would lay off any police officers, saying she would reduce the police budget through retirements, attrition and reductions in overtime.

“We stop police from being dog catchers, homelessness outreach, mental health counselors and we put professionals into those roles,” she said.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown Declares Victory in Write-In Campaign Against Socialist .
Brown said the election was "a referendum on the future of our democracy and our vision for our future."Walton was the Democratic nominee for mayor, having defeated Brown during the primary in June. Regardless of the defeat, Brown mounted an aggressive general election campaign as a write-in candidate against Walton, whom he described as a "radical Socialist trying to learn on the job.

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