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Buffalo makes history with choice for new city clerk

Mike Desmond
Tianna Marks (l) is sworn in as Buffalo's new city clerk.

Buffalo has a new city clerk after Tianna Marks was elected Tuesday by Common Council members. Marks is the city's first female African American clerk.

The choice was unanimous. Marks was deputy to Gerald Chwalinski, who just retired from the position. She thanked Council members for selecting her.

"I believe today's a great day for the City of Buffalo, not only because history was made, but to see great leaders like the Common Council encourage the development of young and women leaders to continue to develop the right people with similar attributes like themselves," Marks said.

The choice of Marks was popular with Council members who knew her from her start as an intern to former Masten representative Demone Smith, who was in the chamber for the vote. Council member Richard Fontana said he had bigger plans for Marks than city clerk.

"No doubt about it, I thought she was going to be the Council member in the Masten District when Demone left," Fontana said. "I was pushing her so hard. I'd say, 'Come on, Tianna.' I talk to her every day at lunchtime. 'Please, come on, run, run, run. We need a female on the Council.' No doubt, she would have won that election."

Council member Rasheed Wyatt said Marks is a good choice.

"She's a consummate professional," Wyatt said. "I can't say she's an up-and-coming professional. She's supersmart and she really cares about us. And we wouldn't say you're filling Jerry's shoes, like the Council member said. You are going to go in your own direction and you have your own style and I really appreciate that."

Council President Darius Pridgen said clerk is an important post.

"A lot of people do not realize that everything from birth to death that occurs in the City of Buffalo of the official record will carry the name of the person who is voted in," Pridgen said. "So when your children are born, it will have that name. When you get married, it will have that name. When you pass, years away from now, it will have that name as long, as that person is the city clerk."

Marks was immediately sworn in by city judge JaHarr Pridgen, daughter-in-law of the council president.

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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