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Buffalo School Board majority defeated

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The Buffalo School Board majority has been knocked out by voters in Tuesday night’s election, with brand new members ready to take on education.


In the Park District, Carl Paladino was the only majority member up for reelection who retained his seat in a narrow victory against 18-year-old Austin Harig.

Credit WBFO News photo by Mike Desmond
Carl Paladino delivered a victory speech at Doc Sullivan's in South Buffalo.

School Board President James Sampson, a write-in candidate in the West District, who was knocked-off the ballot, was defeated by Jennifer Mecozzi.   

Sampson admitted defeat. Sampson he watched the election returns with North District incumbent Jay McCarthy, who also lost to candidate Hope Jay. 

Sampson and McCarthy appeared together at McCarthy’s restaurant and bar The Place in the Elmwood area.   

“I want to reflect on the past three-years, I don’t know what’s going to happen to the majority, but the one thing I would want to encourage people to do is think about the progress we’ve made in the past three years,” said Sampson. 

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
James Sampson acknowledges defeat in his write-in campaign against Jennifer Mecozzi.

Mecozzi appeared at a large victory party at the Pearl Street Grill in downtown Buffalo, a gathering of the union-supported block of candidates. 

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Jennifer Mecozzi gets a big congratulations hug during a victory party at the Pearl Street Grill.

“This sends a message, that when you communicate with people around what’s going on, people will step up and take a stand, when you take people for granted, then you don’t win and that’s what ended up happening,” said Mecozzi. 

McCarthy told reporters ‘let’s get this over’ as the numbers were not stacking up in his favor.  

“Of course I’m sadden by the news, but I will say that I’ve been very fortunate to be able to serve this community, to serve my district and my city and be able to institute policies that I think that were so very great for students and kids in the classroom,” remarked McCarthy.

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Jay McCarthy admits defeat to reporters at his bar & restaurant, The Place, where he watched results.

Opponent Jay also appeared late Tuesday night at the Pearl Street where she talked about defeating McCarthy and the majority.   

“I think the voters have spoken,” said Jay. “Clearly the community was not satisfied with the current makeup of the board and wanted a change.”

In the Central District, Paulette Woods emerged victorious against Byron McIntyre. Woods celebrated at the Pearl Street with her elderly father and sister.  

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Paulette Woods (right) celebrated with her father and sister at the Pearl Street Grill.

“I am so thankful, the Lord has put me in place to help children, to make a brighter future for Buffalo,” stated Woods. “We want to put children first. We want smaller class sizes.”

In the East District Theresa Harris-Tigg won her reelection and appeared with many of the winners.   

“I think people are tired of the shenanigans and they really want people to work for the best interest of all our children.  I can’t wait to work with my new board members,” remarked Harris-Tigg. 

Harris-Tigg faced two write-in opponents, parents Patricia Elliott and Colleen Russell. 

Incumbent Sharon Belton-Cottman, who ran unopposed, also joined in the victory celebration for her reelection.

WBFO News asked majority school board member Larry Quinn about losing two majority members. Quinn also appeared at The Place with Sampson and McCarthy. 

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Majority Board Member Larry Quinn said he was saddened by the outcome of Tuesday's elections.

“It’s disappointing but life goes on,” said majority member Larry Quinn. “Jay McCarthy and James Sampson were very dedicated to improving education in the city. It’s ashame, but the problems still remain and so we all have come up with a solution, there’s no other way to look at this thing,” stated Quinn.

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.
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