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Campaign '17: Petitions signal official start of mayor's race

With candidates starting to collect petitions for the September ballot, this past week was the unofficial kick-off of the 2017 Buffalo mayoral election.

And to get things started, the three-way Democratic primary field early in the week became a four-way contest.

Taniqua Simmons, 42,  a community activist and political neophyte,  joined the political veterans - incumbent Mayor Byron W. Brown, City Comptroller Mark J.F.Scroeder, and Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant - on the campaign trail.

Candidates talked all week about efforts to get the 2,000 valid signatures needed to make it onto the Sept. 12 c primary ballot. Petitions must be filed with the Erie County Election Board July 10 to 13.

Here's more of what's happened on that trail this past week:


Brown officially opened his campaign headquarters at Court and Pearl streets Monday evening, attracting a crowd of 400 or so, including Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and actor William Fichtner, a native of Cheektowaga, who will be directing a film in Buffalo this summer.

Throughout the week, Brown  benefited from the power of incumbency.  He stopped one day at Regina Place and Mohican Avenue to announce 75 streets being paved. He was at the Moot Center on High Street doing a meet and greet with seniors. He announced a project labor agreement at the Northland Corridor. He announced recycling efforts are up. He spoke Friday at the Juneteenth flag raising in Niagara Square.

Brown also  attended the Bridgewater County Club, where  the Police Athletic League held its annual fundraising golf tournament. And Friday night, he attended the Community Action Organization awards dinner at the Buffalo Convention Center, where he received the CAO's business partner of the year award.


Schroeder continued his door-to-door campaigning, as well as his listening sessions, which brought him Monday to the North Park Theater, where a crowd of about 20 people  asked questions and offered support. He has another session scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Buffalo Irish Center.

The candidate's week of events included taping a radio interview,  attending a North Buffalo farmers market, an event at the Flying Bison Brewery, and attending the CAO dinner Friday night..

Schroeder also released the third point of his four-point Compass Plan, this one on public safety.

If elected, Schroeder said, he will:
✵ Increase police training.
✵Implement programs to reduce gun violence, get guns off the street and address the heroin epidemic.
✵ Double the number of community policing officers in each district.
✵ Create an open dialogue between police and residents."



Grant took to Facebook throughout the week, offering a glimpse on what her mayoral priorities might be.

* She spoke against the $5 fee for Canal side concerts. The charge, she said, further separates "the poor and low-income citizens from those who can afford (to) come here to party, play and then leave for the suburbs."

*She revealed getting a parking ticket Tuesday on Jefferson Avenue, but said  it was improperly issued, and that signs on Jefferson near the Merriweather library are confusing. If elected, Grant said, she would research the necessity of "No Parking 4 p.m. to 6 p.m." on that section of Jefferson.

*She spoke of being interested in freezing tax assessments for five years in high-poverty areas as a way to ward off gentrification.

That idea got some push back, with some questioning whether it's legal to freeze assessments in only certain neighborhoods.  It's not legal, a state tax official told The Buffalo News. Assessments must be citywide. (Brown has frozen assessments citywide in recent years.)

Grant responded that she planned to research the issue, and noted her original post said she would do only what could be legally done.


Simmons is just getting started with her campaign. She is hosting a meet and greet, and petition training at a local restaurant, the  Oakk Room on Main Street, from 12:30 p.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday


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