As the contentious Common Council race in Buffalo’s Fillmore District enters its final week, one of the candidates – incumbent David A. Franczyk – is getting financial backing from city police and fire unions, a former mayor and some local movers and shakers.
And the other Fillmore candidates?
Samuel A. Herbert didn’t file any campaign reports yet, but says he’s raised about $425.
And Joseph A. Mascia’s campaign is close to broke.
“With all the stuff in the paper, whose going to donate to me?” Mascia asked.
Mascia filed spending reports earlier in the campaign season, but says he didn’t realize another report was due Monday. Not that he has much to report, he said. Nonetheless, after being told of the filing deadline by The Buffalo News, Mascia said the report was submitted Thursday.
Council contests aren’t typically big-money races, with candidates relying more on door-to-door campaigning than expensive television advertising. But palm cards and flyers are often handed out, signs are posted and a mailer or two often shows up toward the end of the campaign. That all costs money.
So far, campaign spending reports show Franczyk spent about $12,000 this campaign season, and has about $10,000 remaining in his campaign fund. Mascia raised $1,700 in May and June, and nothing more since. He has $10 left in his campaign account, he reported Thursday.
Herbert said he raised about $420 at a late-August fundraiser and immediately spent $330 on campaign literature.
Candidates who raise or spend more than $1,000 are required to report the spending to the state Board of Elections. Lesser amounts are to be reported to the county election board.
Franczyk lashed out at his opponents for filing campaign reports late or not at all. “Herbert’s run a million times and still doesn’t know what he has to do?” Franczyk asked, referring to Herbert’s past campaigns for Common Council and Assembly.
And Mascia, Franczyk noted, was criminally charged for not filing campaign reports in past elections. Mascia pleaded guilty and was given a conditional discharge. The charges, Mascia said, were dismissed in August.
“This time,” Franczyk said, “he should be brought up on charges and sent to jail – made an example of.”
The failure of Mascia and Herbert to follow campaign filing deadlines, Franczyk said, speaks to the unsuitability of both to hold public office.
“It’s contemptible and incompetent,” Franczyk said. “This is Politics 101. That’s how the public knows where you are getting money.”
Herbert said he told his treasurer earlier in the campaign there was no need to immediately set up a campaign spending account because his opponents had challenged his petitions, and he wasn’t sure yet if his name would make it on the ballot. It’s likely, Herbert said, there was a miscommunication with his treasurer, who had not realized he needed to file in the Aug. 31 reporting period.
Herbert said Thursday the paperwork has started, and his treasurer is in the process of filing. He said he had a fundraiser Aug. 26 that raised $425 that he is using to buy 1,000 pieces of literature and he hopes to raise additional money for radio advertising.
Mascia said the treasurer who helped with his prior filings no longer works with him, so Mascia was unaware of the Aug. 31 filing deadline. Mascia said he spoke to his accountant after learning of the deadline, and Thursday submitted the filing, a copy of which Mascia submitted to The Buffalo News.
The report shows Mascia spent $25 on voter registration data in the past two weeks and has $10 left in his campaign fund.
Mascia early in the Council campaign received $500 contributions from businessmen Hormoz Mansouri and Carl P. Paladino. But he said he is no longer comfortable asking for donations given the controversy attached to his campaign since release of a tape recording in which Mascia repeatedly uses the N-word to describe local African-American leaders.
Paladino previously defended Mascia, as he did Thursday, describing him as a strong voice against corruption as a tenant commissioner on the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority. Paladino also repeated Thursday that he thinks Mascia is being maligned over the tape-recording incident. But Paladino also said he doesn’t want to get involved in local politics, and doesn’t know that any of the three Fillmore candidates could properly represent the district. Paladino also said he’s aware that Mascia, during the campaign, criticized the city for giving tax breaks and subsidies to developers, including Paladino’s companies. But, Paladino said, such comments roll off him, and have nothing to do with his not making further donations to Mascia’s campaign.
“That washes off me,” he said. “I’m trying to stay out of that local-type politics.”
Mascia already contributed $600 to his own campaign and said he may spend a couple hundred more of his own money before the primary on Thursday.
Franczyk’s campaign, meanwhile, is flush.
Franczyk, who has been on the Council much of the past 30 years, started the campaign season with $5,900 and then raised $16,000 more, records show. He has spent about $12,000 – much of it on campaign literature, signs, fundraising costs and events he sponsors. He has more than $9,800 remaining. His biggest contributors include Howard A. Zemsky, president and chief executive officer of Empire State Development, and his wife, Leslie; as well as former Delaware District Councilman Michael J. LoCurto, who each gave Franczyk $1,000. Franczyk received $250 from the city’s police union, and $200 from the fire union as well as $250 each from attorney Robert J. Kresse and former Mayor Anthony M. Masiello.
In the Masten District campaign, meanwhile, candidate Ulysees O. Wingo is just slightly ahead of Sharon Belton-Cottman in the money race. Both filed their spending reports this week. Wingo raised $10,330 and spent $5,873. He has $4,457 remaining. One of his biggest contributions – $1,000 – came from Mayor Byron W. Brown. Belton-Cottman’s campaign raised $8,957 and spent $4,264. She has $4,693 remaining. She received a $1,000 from the Women’s TAP (Taking Action in Politics) fund.
The third candidate, Lamone Gibson, said he filed his report Thursday. “This is my first campaign,” Gibson said, explaining why his filing was late. The candidate said he raised and spent about $3,000 so far.