Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant, who officially announced she is running for mayor on Sunday, bristles at the notion she could be a spoiler in what is now a three-way race in the Democratic primary.
Grant, a longtime force in East Side politics, will take on incumbent Mayor Byron W. Brown, with the potential for the two to split the vote in the African-American community. If this occurs, the candidacy of Mark J. F. Schroeder could get a boost.
"To say that we will split the vote is to say only black people vote for black people. He (Brown) has insulted his own supporters. I have white supporters. It demeans the whole process," Grant said.
Grant, who joined the Common Council in 1997, noted the East Side of Buffalo was excluded from Buffalo Billion funding.
"The East Side has been neglected," said Grant, pointing to lack of employment and rising crime. "The East Side is the real forgotten part of Buffalo."
But the straw that broke the camel's back, she said, was when the community was shut out from the Buffalo Train Station Panel's decision to keep the train station downtown, instead of moving it to the Central Terminal.
Before the decision, she noted, she was part of an effort to circulate petitions in the Broadway Market, and the community showed "an affinity" to bring the train station to the Central Terminal, which was "completely ignored" by the panel, she said.
In addition, Grant is critical of a plan for an 84-unit apartment building on Jefferson Avenue.
"We don't need more apartments. We need infrastructure, revitalization," said Grant, who believes the apartment building is being developed for medical corridor housing. Although it may be needed, she said, it doesn't improve the lot of East Side residents.
Infrastructure and street improvements throughout the entire city would be addressed by Mayor Grant, she added.
In addition, she would champion funding toward loans to help low-income residents avoid foreclosure or for improvements to land bank homes to bring them into compliance.
She also downplayed the mayor's role in the renaissance of Canalside, saying kudos should go to Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and former Gov. David A. Paterson.
"The funds were allocated. He (Brown) just had to steer the ship that was already going down the river," Grant said.
Grant has served in politics since the late 1990s, representing the University District on the Council, as a Buffalo School Board member and Erie County legislator, serving as former chairman of the body.
She lost narrowly to Timothy M. Kennedy in the 2012 Democratic primary for State Senate. Kennedy was declared the winner of the race by just 139 votes after extended court proceedings before State Supreme Court Justice Joseph R. Glownia. In the race, Kennedy spent about $400,000 on his campaign and Grant, $20,000.
Brown already has a considerable war chest, which had raised about $341,000 as of January.
Grant concedes the challenge is great, but noted her base of supporters has encouraged her to run for the past year. Grant said after her Sunday announcement, volunteers stepped up to the plate to be part of her campaign.
"I never expected to coast," she said. "I'm going to give it my all."
On Saturday, Terrence Robinson announced he plans to for mayor on the Green Party line.