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Mayoral hopefuls heading to anti-violence summit

Two county legislators are hosting a summit tonight to discuss violence in the city, but it’s two other politicians who might steal the show.

Democratic mayoral candidate Bernard A. Tolbert said the summit is “timely” in a videotaped message on his Facebook page.

“We’ve had a number of homicides over the past few weeks that illustrate the issue that it is in Buffalo,” Tolbert said. “This summit will give everyone an opportunity to talk about the things that are happening.”

Tolbert’s videotaped support for the meeting, and his planned appearance, mark a shift to a more public campaign and his desire to focus on crime. Tolbert previously served as the FBI’s special agent in charge of Buffalo.

“As an FBI agent, I know that most crimes we solve, we solve them not because we do good forensic work. We do, but most cases are solved because someone from the community comes forward and gives us more information,” he said.

Tolbert, who is challenging Mayor Byron W. Brown in a Democratic primary, has attended numerous public and private events this year, but the summit will likely attract more attention.

Legislature Chairwoman Betty Jean Grant, who donated $50 to Tolbert’s campaign, is organizing the event with Timothy R. Hogues, a fellow legislator.

“A Summit on Violent Crime and Homicide in Buffalo” begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Frank E. Merriweather Library, 1324 Jefferson Ave. Elected and appointed officials are expected to attend, as are anti-violence groups and people in law enforcement.

Republican mayoral candidate Sergio R. Rodriguez also said he will attend.

The Brown administration has maintained that crime in the city is down since 2005, but Rodriguez pointed to an FBI report, which said Buffalo had the 11th highest rate of violent crime in the country in 2012.

Though shootings in the city are down 40 percent from last year, the city has had 21 homicides so far this year, on pace with last year’s figures.

“While the mayor attempts to save face during an election year, the real statistics are out there,” Rodriguez said.