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Herbert again takes aim at longtime incumbent in seeking Fillmore District seat on Council

It’s a bit early for the political season to begin in Buffalo, but perennial candidate Samuel A. Herbert says he has been waiting for four years – ever since being defeated in the 2011 Common Council election – for a rematch.

So he’s announcing now that he’s running again this year, trying one more time to defeat longtime incumbent Fillmore Council Member David A. Franczyk.

All nine seats are up this year on the all-Democratic, all-male Council. Herbert, whose debts to the city may become a campaign issue, says he’s his own man. “I support Mayor Brown, but have no allegiance with any elected officials,” the neighborhood activist said.

Herbert must still collect petition signatures to get on the Democratic primary ballot for September. It would be his third time running against Franczyk for the Fillmore District seat.

This year, as in the past, Herbert is making an issue of Franczyk’s long tenure and the condition of the district.

“I’m running to remove David Franczyk and to get things done in the Fillmore District,” Herbert said. “My top priority is to get the people new sidewalks, new drainage systems and streets paved.”

Herbert, 65, is a retired Roswell Park Cancer Institute lab technician who said he went back to school and received a degree in political science from Buffalo State College in 2006. He now works part time with the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Franczyk, 60, first joined the Council in 1986. He teaches history classes at SUNY Buffalo State.

Of Herbert, Franczyk said. “I’ve known him for 35 years. He has a right to run, but he’s really not suitable for public office.” Franczyk cited past-due user fees that Herbert owes the city, and had owed in the past. “If you can’t run your own finances, how can you run the city’s?” Franczyk said.

As of Friday morning, Herbert owed the city $389 in garbage user fees – $64 from 2015, $67 from the second half of 2014 and $258 from prior fiscal years, records show. In 2007, the first year he ran against Franczyk, Herbert was about $3,200 in arrears to the city.

Herbert acknowledged falling behind in some of his bills but said he always pays his debts.

“I’m like thousands of people in the City of Buffalo,” he said. “I work. I owe. I pay. I don’t run from my responsibilities.”

After being asked about the unpaid bills, Herbert went to City Hall on Friday to make a $150 payment toward his user fee bill and work out a payment plan for the balance, he said.

Franczyk also cited public comments Herbert once made as an example of Herbert’s unsuitability for office. When appearing before the Council during a discussion about casinos, Franczyk said, Herbert spoke out against gay marriage.

Asked about that, Herbert said he opposes gay marriage but is not homophobic.

“I am a Christian. My daddy is a preacher,” he said. “I was raised, and still believe, homosexual marriages are wrong, But it is law, and I go along with the law.”

Herbert added that he has always fought for all people to receive health care, affordable housing and employment, regardless of sexual orientation.