The Buffalo Common Council is losing an elder statesman with David A. Franczyk’s decision to not run again for his Fillmore district seat.
Franczyk has served for 32 years, briefly interrupted in the late 1990s when he ran for (but didn’t win) the council president seat, then was elected in a citywide vote. Francyzk would later win re-election to his district seat, eventually gaining the post of council president – this time chosen by his fellow council members – and holding it for eight years.
Franczyk’s family has held one office or another with the city or county since 1949. So it is noteworthy that, along with his announced departure, he expressed interest in the recently vacated city comptroller seat.
This is not an endorsement of Franczyk. He is one among a field of potential candidates who could provide the checks and balances the office demands. Still, with 31 city budgets under his belt and experience as chairman of the Council’s Finance Committee, he clearly has the bona fides to make him a contender. He is not a certified public accountant but he understands the machinations of government and has an independent streak.
If he does run, voters would get a candidate whose political story dates back decades. In an interview with News Staff Reporter Deidre Williams, Franczyk candidly described his impressions of mayors, past and present.
He discussed the legendary Jimmy Griffin, affable Tony Masiello and Byron W. Brown: in his words, the hardest working mayor of the three but also the “most distant, the coolest, the coldest. It’s hard to warm up to him.”
While it is hardly productive to have a city comptroller at constant loggerheads with the mayor, it surely benefits taxpayers when some distance separates those public officials. Former City Comptroller Mark J.F. Schroeder raised legitimate questions about city finances. Whoever succeeds him must be independent enough to challenge any mayor on finances when appropriate.
Franczyk has critics, just like any longtime officeholder. More common is current Council President Darius G. Pridgen’s assessment. He said Franczyk has an encyclopedic knowledge of city government and its history, and is a “very intelligent lawmaker … who understands the City Charter and the history of the city.”
We’ll see what comes next, but his district is losing a valuable advocate.