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Party Leaders Sign Contract to Keep Bigotry Out of Local Campaigns

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – The leaders of Erie County's two major political parties signed a contract Friday to keep bigoted and racist rhetoric out of the political discourse. The National Conference for Community and Justice drew up the contract and held a signing ceremony at its Delaware Avenue offices.

Democratic Chairman Len Lenihan said negative, race-based campaigning diminishes the community. His Republican counterpart Robert Davis said a positive debate on the issues is needed to move the community forward.

"Enough is enough. We've gone backwards long enough. We have a diminishing population. We have a community that has been divided. We have elected officials who don't have the political will to do what is right," Davis said. "By signing this contract today, we as party leaders are saying we want people elected to public office from both of our parties who will take this community forward."

There was some debate over the racial implications of a TV ad run by Republican mayoral candidate Kevin Helfer last month. But the NCCJ says the contract is not specifically geared to the mayoral race in which State Senator Byron Brown is hoping to become the first African-American elected to the post. The justice group says it applies to all candidates running for elective office.