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Buffalo mayoral candidates get personal about Child Tax Credit

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Democratic nominee India Walton
WBFO files photos
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Democratic nominee India Walton

A news conference to address the new child tax credit turned into an opportunity for Buffalo’s competing mayoral candidates to discuss what the increased payments will mean to them and their families.

Mayor Byron Brown and Democratic nominee India Walton were both in attendance Thursday at the former School 77 building for PUSH Buffalo’s news conference regarding the monthly $300-per-child tax credit.

Thousands of Buffalo and Western New York families are set to begin receiving the monthly payments July 15 under the expansion of the child tax credit system, included in the American Rescue Plan. The expansion will raise the annual payment to $3,000 per child between the ages of six and 17, and $3,600 for children under six.

Ninety-one percent of families in the 26th Congressional District, which includes Buffalo and Niagara Falls, are eligible for the tax credit. In total, nearly 400,000 children across Western New York's three congressional districts will benefit from the tax credit.

Walton, a political newcomer and Democratic Socialist, defeated Brown in the June 22 Democratic primary. Brown, a four-term mayor, has announced he will launch a write-in campaign for the Nov. 2 general election.

However, both Brown and Walton on Thursday advocated for making the child tax credit permanent, and offered personal anecdotes about their own families.

Walton, a 39-year-old single mother of four, said the check will help her enroll her 11-year-old son in summer programs.

“Knowing that that $300 was coming on the 15th means that ... I'm able to get him caught up from missing so much school because of the pandemic, and get him access to the football equipment that he's going to need to participate in sports this summer,” she said.

Brown may be eligible for checks also. He said he and wife Michelle have been raising a toddler niece and nephew for the last eight months, following the parents’ breakup.

“We were told if a member of the family did not step in, the children would be put in the foster care system. Michelle said we cannot allow that to happen,” Brown said. “We've had the children ever since. We try to work with their parents.”

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.