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DEMOCRATS INTERVIEW MAYORAL CANDIDATES

State Sen. Byron W. Brown and three other announced mayoral candidates plus Mayor Anthony M. Maseillo were interviewed by the Erie County Democratic Party leadership Thursday in Ellicott Square.

Masiello held back in announcing whether he is a candidate for re-election but promised to do so soon.

Also seeking the party's endorsement in the fall Democratic primary are Common Council Majority Leader Marc A. Coppola, downtown businessman Steve Calvaneso and West Side activist Judith Einach.

Einach's endorsement was expected to be announced today by the Green Party, which hopes to get a line on the November ballot, and by a new grass-roots group, Primary Challenge.

Another Democrat, regionalism advocate Kevin P. Gaughan, said he will run for mayor but declined to seek the party's endorsement.

"I respect the process," Gaughan wrote Democratic Committee Chairman Leonard R. Lenihan. "However, I feel that the reforms I shall seek as mayor are best achieved if I gain the office in the same manner I've served my community -- without obligations owing to anyone."

In addition, City Comptroller Andrew A. SanFilippo sent word that he would not run for mayor, saying: "As the city's chief fiscal officer, I can continue to oversee our financial recovery and influence fiscal policy going forward, no matter who holds the office of mayor."

During their interviews, all of the candidates hedged when asked whether they would support the winner of the primary election if they should lose.

Meanwhile, County Executive Joel A. Giambra reiterated that he will not support any mayoral candidate who fails to embrace merging the City of Buffalo and Erie County. His own political problems have not exactly caused a clamor for his endorsement, Giambra acknowledged, but he said he still plans to play an active role.

Giambra said he still supports a regionalism plan advanced by a commission that he and Masiello co-founded last year. That idea, which has been declared dead for now by all involved, centered on merging the city and county governments without other towns and villages.

Giambra said Masiello has tried to thwart the concept.

"I'm disappointed in Tony," he said. "He helped start this with me and then said it was a bad idea."

Masiello labeled the plan "totally ineffective" because he said it fails to address a number of what he considers key issues. And he again noted that merging a city governed by a state financial control board with a county in financial crisis would not accomplish much.

"How are you going to pay for a lot of this consolidation when the county can't pay for services now?" the mayor said. "Just folding the city into the county now makes for even greater chaos."

Masiello noted his long relationship with Giambra, but when asked if he wanted Giambra's support, he said he would not turn the dispute into anything personal.

"I know Joel is down, but I'm down, too," he said.

e-mail: acardinale@buffnews.com

and rmccarthy@buffnews.com

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