After a six-year absence from elective politics, the name “Hoyt” may once again appear on a Buffalo ballot.
Clayton Hoyt, son of former Assemblyman Sam Hoyt and grandson of the late Assemblyman William B. Hoyt, said Monday he is seriously considering a Democratic candidacy for the Second District seat in the County Legislature now occupied by Betty Jean Grant.
“I’ve been encouraged to run and I am really flattered,” the younger Hoyt said. “I’m giving it serious thought and will probably decide within the next 24 hours.”
Hoyt, 25, is a SUNY Buffalo State graduate who works for the Buffalo Common Council staff as its public information officer. He would be making his first bid for public office after his father served in the Assembly from 1992 to 2011. Before that, his grandfather William Hoyt occupied the same seat from 1975 until his death in 1992.
Indeed, his backers cite recognition as a major advantage, especially for the Hoyt name that has appeared on West Side ballots stretching back more than 40 years.
But the new candidate may be entering a crowded field. Democratic leaders in the district have already endorsed April Baskin for the seat after Grant said she would leave County Hall to run in the Democratic primary for mayor. In addition, former At-Large Council Member Charley H. Fisher III has announced he is running for the seat, as has newcomer Duncan Kirkwood, Western New York advocacy manager for the Northeast Charter Schools Network.
West Side sources are also mentioning attorney David Martinez as another candidate, setting up the possibility of a multi-ethnic contest for the Buffalo seat traditionally held by an African-American.
That prospect is meeting with the disapproval of Erie County Democratic Chairman Jeremy J. Zellner, who remains a strong supporter of Baskin. She is a graduate student at SUNY Buffalo State who in 2014 founded College Simulation, an educational initiative seeking to improve college retention rates for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Zellner appears to be already heaping pressure on Sam Hoyt, regional president of the Empire State Development Corp. and a top local representative of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. He said the seat is traditionally represented by an African-American and that should not change.
“I’ve got to believe that Sam Hoyt and anyone associated with him would not upset that apple cart,” Zellner said. “It’s important to us that the seat remain African-American.”
Still, observers familiar with the district’s demographics point out that a substantial white population makes up much of its voters west of Main Street. They also point out that Hoyt, who is white, could enjoy an advantage against several minority candidates should traditional ethnic voting patterns prevail.