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LoCurto joins Common Council, praises police

Moments after being sworn in as Buffalo's newest Common Council member Tuesday, Michael J. LoCurto praised the Police Department's efforts to target quality-of-life crimes.

The Delaware District's new representative said he believes one of the looming challenges involves protecting neighborhoods from vandalism, graffiti, break-ins and other crimes.

LoCurto, 34, won unanimous Council backing to a seat that was vacated a month ago by Marc A. Coppola following his election to the State Senate. LoCurto made it clear that he intends to run this fall to fill the one year that remains on Coppola's unexpired term. But three Democrats who were also hoping to win the appointment have vowed to challenge LoCurto in the September primary: Rosemarie LoTempio, whose grandmother previously served as Council majority leader; Samuel R. Marie, a former Buffalo police officer; and Pedro Velez Lopez, who has been active in Hispanic groups.

The unanimous Council vote in favor of LoCurto was preceded by a monthlong struggle that left lawmakers embroiled in a 4-4 deadlock. One faction accused Democratic Party leaders of being heavy-handed in their efforts to advance LoCurto's appointment. Others claimed the office of Mayor Byron W. Brown was playing a behind-the-scenes role in delaying LoCurto's appointment, which administration officials denied.

But LoCurto said he doesn't think the political struggles will overshadow his new role.

"That's in the past," he told reporters following the special Council session, when City Court Court Judge Craig D. Hannah swore him in.

LoCurto, an aide to state Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, D-Buffalo, will face one of his first major tasks in several weeks when the mayor sends his new spending plan to the Council. LoCurto said that while he might be the only freshman lawmaker, he expects to play an active role in shaping the budget.

"I'm a tenacious guy," he said. "If it means nagging people, I'll do it."

e-mail: bmeyer@buffnews.com

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