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Common Council Elects Its New Leadership

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo Common Council holds its reorganizational meeting Friday to select new leadership. No longer will the voters decide on a Council president. It's now up to the lawmakers themselves.

This new year brings a new look to the Common Council. The president and three at-large seats were eliminated as part of the downsizing of the Council from 13 to nine seats. Lawmakers took their oaths of office earlier this week. Friday, they vote for a new president and majority leader.

Fillmore District Council Member David Franczyk says he's "certain" he will be elected Council president. Franczyk says he also expects Delaware District Council member Marc Coppola to be selected as majority leader, and newly elected University District lawmaker Bonnie Russell as president pro temp. Franczyk say he's optimistic the five needed votes will be there for this new leadership line-up.

Masten District Council member Antoine Thompson would not say who he plans to support today for council leadership. But Russell says she is ready to vote for Franczyk as Council president.

And then there is newly elected South District Council member Jim Griffin. He says he believes that a divide is already building in Council decisions. He says it appears five lawmakers are not including four others in some of the initial talks for this new Council "team."

"They're forgetting about the other four," Griffin said. "That's not the way it should be. We're nine people here, and we all represent residents. We need to make sure our voice are heard."

Griffin would not give any indication who he plans to support for Council president. In fact, he says he never publicly said who he plans to vote for.

One thing is certain, Griffin will be adding a great deal of animation to the 2004 Council sessions.