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Down to the wire: Mayoral candidates seek late votes as 9 p.m. approaches

Lawn signs supporting rival mayoral candidates India Walton and Byron Brown, as seen early morning November 2 outside the Northwest Buffalo Community Center, which hosts a polling station.
Michael Mroziak
Lawn signs supporting rival mayoral candidates India Walton and Byron Brown, as seen early morning November 2 outside the Northwest Buffalo Community Center, which hosts a polling station.

In the hours remaining on Election Day 2021, candidates were out seeking last-minute support. The selections of note include those for Erie County Sheriff, Erie County Comptroller, and some town supervisor races.

Meanwhile in Buffalo, the race for mayor continued to bring out visible differences in opinion Tuesday.

In Buffalo, the biggest race is that for the office of mayor. The incumbent, Byron Brown, appeared at the Northland Workforce Training Center, touting the facility as one of the achievements of his administration. He stated that hundreds have received job training there, more than half of whom are people of color.

And he again took aim at India Walton, the Democratic nominee who upset him in the June Primary.

“This is a fight for the future of our community. I think Buffalo voters will show today that they don't want a radical socialist that wants to dismantle their police department, and reverse the economic gains that this community has made,” Brown said.

Walton, meanwhile, appeared in the Grant-Ferry neighborhood, joined by State Senator Sean Ryan. Walton’s entourage also included an out-of-town film crew that has been following her campaign and her story.

She was upbeat in the final hours of the campaign.

“I'm excited. It's been a long year, but our volunteers are fired up and ready to go. I've been talking to voters, people are just very excited,” Walton said. “I don't have a better word to describe what I've been experiencing over the course of the last few hours, so I'm just looking forward to results beginning to come in later on this evening, and looking forward to bringing home the win.”

There were a pair of Brown supporters nearby, both bearing “Write Down Byron Brown” signs. Some passing motorists beeped their horns in support. Another rolled down his window and simply shouted, “why?”

Brown volunteers were also staked out at every polling station throughout the city, at stations set up to distribute rubber stamps bearing Brown’s name. With the mayor running as a write-in candidate, his campaign supporters were looking to instruct voters how to properly fill out the write-in box on the ballot.

On Virginia Street, on a street corner a short distance away from the entrance to the polling station at Hispanics United, one such station was set up. But on the other side of the entrance, at the opposite street corner, a pair of men stood by, playing music as one of them spoke into a microphone and through an amplifier, expressing their support for Walton.

Meanwhile, quietly arriving between the two factions was another mayoral write-in candidate, Ben Carlisle. Joined by his wife and her parents, they went inside to cast their own ballots.

Afterward, Carlisle spoke of why he got involved in the campaign. As he explained at the start of his campaign, he was unimpressed with the two main contenders.

“I think Byron Brown has been an effective leader. I think Byron Brown has gotten some projects done. But Byron Brown focuses on a few individuals rather than focusing on the whole community. My promise is, when I get to City Hall, that city hall is going to work for everybody. There'll be transparency for everybody. No one's going to be cutting the line,” he said. “What I would do differently from India Walton is pretty simple. I wouldn't introduce a socialist platform. I wouldn't defund the police. I wouldn't vilify the police. So there's you know, a couple little things that I think are stark differences between me and India Walton.”

Also running as a write-in candidate is Jaz Miles, who appeared in the first of two debates, the one hosted by the Buffalo Association of Black Journalists, but did not appear at the second debate hosted by St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.