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Helfer Announces Mayoral Candidacy

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – He's hoping to become Buffalo's first Republican mayor in more than 40 years. Former Common Council Member Kevin Helfer announced his candidacy for mayor before dozens of supporters who gathered in Niagara Square late Monday afternoon.

To shouts of "run, Kevin, run," Helfer entered the race as the only candidate who is assured of having a spot on the November ballot. He's the only Republican running.

On the Democratic side, there are a number of announced candidates, including State Senator Byron Brown.

But Helfer is clearly running against Brown, referring to him as "my opponent" on several occasions. Helfer was especially critical of the endorsements Brown has secured from the city's employee unions. WBFO News asked Helfer if that means he's expecting to line just as many endorsements from area business leaders.

"I think you probably can expect a similar number (of endorsements)," Helfer said. "But I'm not actively seeking endorsements. I think businesses will endorse me because of my platform of good government and an accountable government.

"In terms of municipal union endorsements, I didn't actively seek that support. I never have. I think that compromises independence."

In his announcement, Helfer did say his economic development program would focus on rejuvenating existing, home-grown businesses. He was a small business owner himself when he first ran, and was elected to the Common Council in the 1990s.

It was Helfer's record of service to the University District that attracted the support of Terry Alford, one of a handful of African-Americans who turned out for yesterday's announcement.

"You can look at Kevin Helfer's record and see what he's done," Alford said. "You can point to different things on Main Street and at the University at Buffalo that serve as evidence of what he's done."

Byron Brown must first win the Democratic primary before he can focus on Kevin Helfer. But if Brown wins in September, the stage will be set for an historic election. Come November, Buffalo would either have its first Republican mayor in nearly 45 years or its first African-American mayor.