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Editorial: News endorses Kirkwood for County Legislature

Editor’s note: In editorials today and Sunday, The Buffalo News editorial board is endorsing candidates in Democratic primaries Sept. 12. These endorsements are intended to aid voters in their evaluation of candidates. Whether you agree or disagree with our recommendations, we urge you to vote and take part in our electoral process.

Four candidates are vying in next week’s Democratic primary for the 2nd District seat on the Erie County Legislature. Any of three would make a credible legislator while the fourth, although willing and interested, is unprepared for the seat.

Of the three, we endorse Duncan E. Kirkwood, a passionate and focused military veteran who returned to Buffalo a few years ago and has worked to make a difference in the community. He has some experience in local government in Alabama and, since returning to Buffalo a few years ago, has been active in organizations including Say Yes to Education and Black Lives Matter.

His opponents are April N. Baskin, the party’s endorsed candidate; former Buffalo Common Council Member at large Charley H. Fisher; and attorney David A. Martinez. They are running to succeed Betty Jean Grant, who is stepping down to run for Buffalo mayor this year.

Either Baskin or Fisher would make a solid legislator. Both are well informed and committed, and Fisher, alone among the four candidates, brings significant political experience to the table.

But the Legislature, which already includes veterans, offers a place for young talent to develop and grow, a goal in which Erie County voters have a vested and long-term interest. It is obvious that Kirkwood has talent and energy to spare.

As a veteran, stationed in Alabama, he brings a sense of organization and mission to his campaign and his plans for office, including criminal justice reform, attacking the opioid crisis and increasing diversity within the county. While in Alabama, he got involved in local politics and helped write ordinances for the City of Tuscaloosa.

Martinez says he wants to give back to the community and to give a voice to people who may not have one, but he is both inexperienced and unprepared. He said he would inform himself about issues after the election, but that’s an approach that offers little comfort, given the responsibilities of the position.
We hope Martinez will continue to learn about public life and apply himself to the challenges in the community. Like Kirkwood, he could develop into a community asset.

Baskin and Fisher should also both continue to pursue their interest in public service. But for this race, this year, Kirkwood is our choice.

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