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Masten seat on Buffalo Common Council not expected to be filled before primary

It’s looking as if the Common Council will wait for voters to decide who should fill Demone A. Smith’s Masten District seat.

While no decision has yet been made, several Council members indicated that, given how close it is to the election in November, it doesn’t make sense to temporarily fill the seat that opened up when the majority leader left the Council last week for a better-paying job as head of the Buffalo Employment & Training Center.

In addition to the Democratic primary just two months away, the Council takes a summer break in August. So if the Council rushed to appoint someone now, the individual would get only a short time on the job before voters pick their own nominee in the Sept. 10 primary.

Given the overwhelming Democratic plurality in the Masten District, the primary vote is tantamount to a general election victory.

Whoever wins the election would likely be expected to get an early start on the job.

Among those expressing interest in running for the Masten seat are Sharon M. Belton-Cottman, currently a Buffalo Board of Education member, as well Ulysees O. Wingo and DeMario J. Badger. Wingo is a substitute school teacher who served as program coordinator at Buffalo Promise Neighborhood, according to his LinkedIn account. Badger is the son of Michael A. Badger, senior bishop at Bethesda World Harvest Church. DeMario Badger unsuccessfully ran against Smith in 2011.

While Smith’s seat is open, Council President Darius G. Pridgen, who represents Ellicott District, has said he and Council staff are filling in to ensure that Masten District residents are represented.

All nine Council seats are up this year. Candidates need to file nominating petitions starting Monday to be on the September ballot.

The eight remaining Council incumbents are all expected to seek re-election.

As a Council member, Smith was chosen by his colleagues to serve as majority leader, a position that involves preparing agenda items for Council meetings, counting votes for passage of legislation, and negotiating with the Brown administration when necessary.

The Council is expected to promote Niagara Council Member David A. Rivera to the majority leader post. Rivera is currently Council president pro tempore, which means he fills in for the Council president when necessary. South Council Member Christopher P. Scanlon is expected to be the new president pro tem.

Basic pay for a Council member is $52,000 annually, and those with committee chairmanships and pro-tem status get $53,000. The majority leader post pays $57,000. The Council president earns $62,000 annually.

email: sschulman@buffnews.com