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Appointee faces volunteer for University District seat in lone Council race

There is only one Buffalo legislative race on Tuesday’s ballot: It’s a special election for the Common Council’s University District seat.

The winner will complete the remaining year left in the term of Bonnie E. Russell, who resigned in January to become a confidential secretary for Family Court Judge Mary G. Carney.

Rasheed N.C. Wyatt, who was serving as Council chief of staff, was appointed by his former Council bosses to fill the seat through the end of this year.

Wyatt, a Democrat, now faces Republican challenger James E. Rozanski for the one-year job. Whoever wins will have to gear up for another campaign next year if he wants to serve a full four-year term.

“I think I’ve been very successful, thus far, in really addressing the immediate needs that I knew were present in the district,” said Wyatt, 51, an Easton Avenue resident, who joined the Council’s staff as a senior legislative aide in 2012.

Wyatt’s focus, in office and during the campaign, has been addressing crime, dealing with a rash of out-of-control student house parties and enhancing services for youth in the district.

Rozanski, 71, who resides on West Winspear Avenue, has never before run for office, but has long been active in a host of civic projects aimed at improving the quality of life not only in his district, but across the city.

A retired architect in the University at Buffalo’s architecture and planning office, Rozanski has worked with Partners for a Livable Western New York, pushing to make Main Street north of LaSalle Avenue more pedestrian-friendly.

Some of the work the group started nearly 20 years ago foreshadowed that which appears in the city’s proposed Unified Development Ordinance that is scheduled to be sent to the Common Council for review, Rozanski said.

“I feel I could have a very good voice in that. In fact, early on, before it even started, I was on an urban design committee with the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects ... and we discussed starting the process for this zoning change, and it was one of the instigators of it, I guess,” said Rozanski.

Meanwhile, Wyatt is looking to make sure that underserved residents in his district have fair access to the jobs anticipated from the various Buffalo Billion projects being developed downtown and south of the University District.

“I have a Buffalo Billion jobs resolution that I’m asking that the Buffalo Employment and Training Center conduct interviews and training sessions right in the community so that those folks can benefit from those job opportunities that are coming to the city,” he added.

Rozanski said he has worked with the Good Neighbors Planning Alliance and has spent years working with others on rails-to-trails plans that are finally set to culminate in a new bicycle trail that will start at the LaSalle Metro Rail Station and extend to North Tonawanda.