Large audience turns out for Fillmore District forum
Councilmember David Franczyk was flanked by his two opponents Thursday night during a debate over the Council's Fillmore District seat. The two challengers agreed on one thing: the incumbent has to go.
Franczyk has spent 29 years in the post. On the ballot against him are Joseph Mascia and Samuel Herbert. Dave Howard is running a write-in campaign.
Mascia apologized as he has before for using the "n-word" in a conversation recorded by a friend and sparred with both other candidates about what he said.
Much of the debate centered on how bad is Fillmore and what can be done to turn it around. Past Franczyk opponent Herbert was very clear about what he wants to happen on Primary Day.
"One of the most powerful things that we could do in regards to just psychologically making the change on that Council is by removing the gentleman in the middle," Herbert said.
The current Council has nine districts. A question during the debate attacked Franczyk for supporting past referendums which abolished the council president position and three at-large council seats. Most in those positions when abolished were black. Mascia opposed downsizing.
"As far as the Council at that time, I don't believe in downsizing when it represents a great number of people," Mascia told the audience.
"What we do need to do is a couple of things, first of all, change this gerrymandering in the City of Buffalo that specifically helps candidates get reelected. Number two, we've got the poster child for term limits."
Franczyk says cutting the size of the Council reflected the shrinking city population.
"The three seats that were eliminated happen to be three seats, regardless of what the ethnicity of those three seats were," Franczyk explained.
"We thought because the city had dropped so much in population that we needed to reflect the Council with a smaller population. But, since then minority representation in power has increased since those legal reapportionments."
For all of the candidates, the relatively large crowd for the debate is important since voter turnout for the September Primary isn't likely to be large and each candidate has to get out his supporters to win.