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The News endorses Franczyk and Wingo in Common Council primaries

Democrats in the two Buffalo Common Council districts where seats are being contested will go to the polls on Sept. 10 to select the party’s nominees. The Fillmore and Masten districts each have three candidates.

The Buffalo News typically does not endorse in primary elections except in districts that are so heavily weighted to one party that winning the primary is tantamount to election. Here are our endorsements in those two primary races:

Fillmore

Nearly 30 years after David A. Franczyk was first elected to the Buffalo Common Council, this race should be more difficult to decide. It’s not.

Even though an incumbent of such long service often becomes over-ripe, there is no credible challenger to Franczyk. If for no other reason than by default, Franczyk should win the nomination.

First elected in 1986 and serving all but two of the intervening years, Franczyk is passionate about urban life and committed to serving the needs of immigrants and other minorities in his district.

His opponents are Samuel A. Herbert, who has never held public office but is on a mission to serve the city, and Joseph A. Mascia, a tenant-elected commissioner of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.

Mascia was suspended from the BMHA position following disclosure of a racist tirade against African-American leaders in Buffalo. Having thus unmasked himself, he showed voters that he is unfit for a job in which many of his constituents are minorities.

Herbert truly wants to serve the city, but he should recognize that he already has done that through committed advocacy for his district, including his work to install a splash pad at Martin Luther King Park. He is flourishing where he is. District residents are better off with him on the outside and Franczyk in office.

Masten

Voters in the Masten District have a difficult choice to make among three candidates in a seat left vacant with the resignation of Demone A. Smith, who was appointed by the mayor to head the Buffalo Employment and Training Center.

Our decision to endorse Ulysees O. Wingo Sr. is done reluctantly, with the hope that he will work independently to fulfill his stated goal of improving the community. He cannot be a rubber stamp for Mayor Byron W. Brown, who endorsed him and is one of Wingo’s major donors.

The 35-year-old must not be afraid to contradict those who are supporting him: Brown, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, the Grassroots political organization and local unions. They should also allow him to do his job.

Wingo, 35, is a youth minister at Faith Baptist Church and has worked with Buffalo Promise Neighborhood, the Boys & Girls Clubs and the Service Employees International Union.

Sharon Belton-Cottman is perhaps the best known of the candidates, with four years of experience on the School Board. She has a background in insurance, banking and financial industries, until recently having been employed as a licensed home mortgage consultant. She has also worked as a substitute teacher and community lending officer.

However, the lack of progress by the school district in the past four years cannot be ignored. She has not earned promotion to the Common Council.

Lamone Gibson, who has long been affiliated with local antiviolence groups and is a recent Canisius College graduate and school counselor, will be a strong candidate with more experience. At 25, he displays a maturity and passion rarely seen among people twice his age. Gibson should be encouraged to continue his efforts to improve the city.