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The first drops in an expected torrent of mayoral advertising from challengers James W. Pitts and James D. Griffin are trickling into Buffalo radio.

In the meantime, direct mail from Mayor Masiello's campaign is pouring into 130,000 Buffalo mailboxes.

And while Masiello's $500,000 campaign kitty will eventually fund a flood of his broadcast advertising, the initial spurts from Pitts and Griffin are making their own waves.

Griffin, the four-time former mayor, just wrapped up three days of ads on WUFO radio that concentrates on his two main themes -- repealing the garbage tax and improving police services.

"We're saying that somebody has to start doing something," Griffin said of his ads. "And then I say that if you feel that you and your family are not as well off as you were four years ago, vote for Jim Griffin."

Common Council President Pitts also has aired spots off and on this month over WBLK, WUFO and WWWS in a clear attempt to connect with his African-American base.

"I'm saying that the only way the region can be strong is with a strong city, and the only way the city can be strong is with a strong East Side," he said. "We should be concerned about the quality of life in the city."

The mayor's campaign on Friday began mailing a sleek campaign brochure to all registered voters in the city, a publication that he says tells "the story of the last 3 1/2 years."

The brochure outlines his efforts in streamlining government, improving education, creating jobs, fighting crime and planning for the future.

"It's a strong message," Masiello said. "It tells where we've been, where we are and where we're going."

The challengers are working with limited budgets, especially when compared to Masiello's brimming campaign coffers. But their efforts are sharply focused on the themes they have adopted for the difficult task of unseating an incumbent mayor.

Griffin, for example, doesn't go anywhere in recent weeks without railing against the garbage fee. His new campaign signs feature a "Repeal the Garbage Tax" slogan, and he calls for its termination in his new ads.

The ex-mayor's re-entry into the political spotlight centered around his opposition to the garbage fee, even though his own administration presented it in 1992 as a way to balance the city's budget.

But Griffin insists that the idea was discussed only as an option and that his office eventually settled on other ways to fill the gap.

"When the budget came out, I said no to the garbage tax," he said. "We knew then and we know now it hurts the poor."

Griffin's ads also call for assigning more police officers to street duty, citing his administration's efforts to move officers from desk duty to patrol.

"I mention in the ads about looking at abuses in sick time, or taking that man or woman out of the car and walking a beat like they did when I was a kid," Griffin said.

Those ideas drew a public rebuke from Masiello's police commissioner, R. Gil Kerlikowske, who called such ideas nice but impossible to implement.

"I heard Mayor Griffin promising more foot patrols, and that's an easy promise to make," Kerlikowske said. "But that doesn't exist anywhere. It's impossible to put officers walking a beat in every location or on every corner."

In the meantime, Pitts' ads continue a familiar theme of calling for new vision and new leadership. They also propose creation of an Opportunity Development Corp. to coordinate economic development efforts, particularly on the East Side.

"I would focus on that like a laser beam," he said.

Pitts' ads also call for repealing the garbage fee.

For the future, both Pitts and Griffin expect to join Masiello with television ads.

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