Council hears from five University District hopefuls - The Buffalo News

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Council hears from five University District hopefuls

During interviews to fill a vacancy on the Common Council, lawmakers spoke positively about several of the candidates, and said that their chief of staff isn’t the only candidate that is known to them.

Five candidates to fill the University District seat, which Bonnie E. Russell left two weeks ago, were heard on Wednesday afternoon. Former University District Council Member Archie L. Amos Jr. was praised for his past work on the Council, longtime City Hall employee Mary M. O’Rourke was commended for being helpful in her current job, and lawmakers said they appreciated Council Chief of Staff Rasheed N.C. Wyatt’s willingness to help each of them.

In separate interviews with Council members after the meeting, Wyatt had at least one vote, and O’Rourke, a 27-year veteran of the city’s management and information systems department, had one as well.

Other members didn’t say how they will vote in a special meeting at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, though Wyatt has been mentioned privately as the likely appointee since November, when Russell said she was planning to leave.

Council President Darius G. Pridgen acknowledged his longtime friendship with Wyatt during Wyatt’s interview. He wondered why his friend would want the job, given the added responsibility and the roughly $8,000 pay cut he will have to take. Following the meeting, Pridgen stopped short of saying Wyatt’s name in an interview about who he would support.

“Several impressed me today,” Pridgen said. “It’s important that someone knows the job and can do the job.”

Council members praised the candidates for different reasons, and one lawmaker, the North District’s Joseph Golombek, said he preferred O’Rourke, and Wyatt is his second choice.

O’Rourke said she would bring a woman’s perspective to issues involving mothers and families to a Council that has nine districts and no women members.

But the lawmakers’ familiarity with Wyatt, and his knowledge of Council operations, appear to give him an edge.

“I think Rasheed has the most experience above all of them,” said Niagara Council Member David A. Rivera.

Rivera said if the vote was held now, he would vote for Wyatt.

“I have to imagine he’d get unanimous support or near-unanimous support,” Rivera said.

Lovejoy Council Member Richard A. Fontana said he knows Amos, has worked with O’Rourke in City Hall and said Wyatt has been a talented chief of staff.

“It’s not like the candidates are unknown to us,” Fontana said.

Fillmore Council Member David A. Franczyk said he knows Amos did the job well and stood out on the Council for being a peacemaker during the late 1980s and early 1990s when lawmakers were divided along racial lines. O’Rourke brings a good perspective and that Wyatt has been helpful, he said.

Michael V. Hicks, a union representative, and Reginald J. Griggs, who is a resource manager at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, also were interviewed. Council members said they appreciated that both men are involved in their communities.

Three applicants either did not show up or withdrew their names from consideration: Buffalo Police video surveillance monitor Chris W. Brown Jr., former Lackawanna City Schools Superintendent Nellie B. King and Buffalo Police Detective Lilton L. Kelley.


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