Rodriguez’s request for series of debates is resisted by mayor - The Buffalo News
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Rodriguez’s request for series of debates is resisted by mayor

Republican Sergio R. Rodriguez, now the only challenger to Mayor Byron W. Brown, challenged his opponent Wednesday to more debates.

Less than 12 hours after the Democratic primary results were tallied, Rodriguez pressed the incumbent to debate him one-on-one.

“Considering that Buffalo is currently facing challenges of epidemic proportions in the areas of education, crime, unemployment, poverty and population decline, the mayor should jump at the opportunity to present the people with his ideas to reform Buffalo,” Rodriguez said in a statement.

Rodriguez said he wants a “series of discussions in a town hall-style setting.”

But Brown rejected the idea even before Rodriguez’s proposal.

“We gave Mr. Rodriguez three debates,” Brown told reporters after his victory speech Tuesday. “We are focused on the work that needs to be done in this city now.”

Brown easily defeated his Democratic primary challenger, Bernard A. Tolbert, winning 68 percent of the vote.

Brown, Tolbert and Rodriguez met on three stages before the primary, and Rodriguez proved to be a lively debater who emphasized education, crime and the city’s unemployment rate.

A Brown spokesman Wednesday didn’t indicate that the mayor had changed his position on future debates but noted that it was Brown who insisted that Rodriguez be invited to participate in the pre-primary debates.

Rodriguez does not have the support of the Erie County Republican Committee, and he campaigns in a city with seven Democratic voters for every Republican.

Brown’s only other mayoral race with a Republican opponent came in 2005.

Former Common Council Member Kevin J. Helfer, now a Brown-appointed city parking commissioner, waged a credible campaign but won just 27 percent of the vote.

The city last elected a Republican mayor in 1961.

News Staff Reporter Mark Sommer contributed to this report. email:

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