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Four Buffalo Democrats vie for key County Legislature seat

Four Democratic candidates are lining up to take the seat being vacated by 2nd District Legislator Betty Jean Grant, who is running for mayor. The 2nd district stretches across the center of the city like a belt, from the Upper East Side through the Delaware and Elmwood Village neighborhoods and across to Buffalo State and the West Side.

The primary candidates include college prep program provider April N. Baskin, former Common Council Member Charley H. Fisher III, Say Yes mentor Duncan E. Kirkwood and lawyer David A. Martinez.

2nd District County Legislature Candidate April Baskin

Baskin, 34, has the backing Democratic leaders. She is founder of The College Simulation Experience in 2015, which helps underprivileged youth learn about life skills needed to succeed in college. A master's degree candidate at Buffalo State, Baskin lists affordable housing advocacy, expanded youth programming, lead prevention and county services outreach to communities among her main platform issues.

Baskin is also endorsed by the Working Families, and Women’s Equality parties, the Women’s TAP Fund and various unions and civic groups. She has raised more than $21,000 so far, she said. She said her ties with both the East Side and West Side set her apart.

"This puts me in the best position to build bridges and unify this diverse district which includes some of Buffalo’s poorest and wealthiest neighborhoods," she said. "I am also the only female candidate. I believe we need a well-proportioned Legislative body that reflects the ethnic and gender diversity of Erie County."

2nd District Legislature candidate David Martinez

Martinez, 42, is a private practice lawyer and co-owner of the Elmwood Village gift shop Vania & David. A graduate of the Duke University School of law, Martinez lists increased support to address the opioid epidemic, greater assistance to elderly and poor homeowners with home repair, and more "clever" ways to fund and maintain county parks and cultural institutions as his main priorities.

He is endorsed by the Panorama Hispano and La Ultima Hora newspapers, as well as the Puerto Rican Committee for Community Justice. He has raised about $8,000, he said. He also said his experience dealing with people from all walks of life in the city and suburbs sets him apart.

"I learned at an early age that people are people – irrespective of race, creed, color, social/economic class, or orientation. Aside from the arts, the food, the parks, and the neighborhoods, it is the people – hard working, down-to-earth, good, kind folks – that make Buffalo and Western New York such an extraordinary place to live."

2nd District County Legislature candidate Duncan Kirkwood

Duncan Kirkwood, 32, is a Say Yes mentor and veteran with the Army National Guard in Alabama. He earned a master’s degree from Ashford University. Kirkwood lists his priorities as fighting the opioid epidemic, prioritizing diversity in all county endeavors, improving access to senior services, improving veteran affairs and the Holding Center.

Kirkwood is endorsed by United Coalition of Churches and Brotherhood, Young Black Democrats of Western New York and other local community and church leaders. He has raised about $16,000 so far in his campaign, he said. His education and military background help set him apart, he said.

"I grew up on Buffalo’s East Side, but my service in the military and world travels have helped me to understand people from all parts of the district and all walks of life," he said. "Our campaign is about putting people over politics because we need to get back to having a government that works for people."

2nd District County Legislature candidate Charley H. Fisher III

Fisher, 63, is a longtime community advocate who runs a consulting business. He is president of the Trinidad Neighborhood Association, a coalition of Humboldt Parkway/Sisters Hospital neighborhood block clubs, and is host of the Charley Fisher Show. He was elected in 1999 as an at-large Buffalo Common Council member and served for four years.

A Canisius College graduate, Fisher has named ground-level, city-focused economic development as a priority, along with increased training center funding and environmental justice. He did not return a Buffalo News candidate questionnaire by deadline, but his Facebook page states he is endorsed by the Challenger newspaper.

As of his last campaign filing, Fisher had raised more than $12,000, including money he contributed toward his own campaign.

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