India Walton, a community activist and Socialist has defeated four-term incumbent Byron Brown in Tuesday’s Democratic Primary for the city of Buffalo.
While the election isn’t final yet, the majority of votes cast during early voting and on Tuesday gave Walton large enough of a lead, analysts predict absentee ballots won’t overcome Walton’s lead.
Brown refused to concede Tuesday night but it’s all but guaranteed that Brown, whose political career has included stints as a council member, state senator, chairman of the state Democratic Party and Buffalo mayor, is ending.
Additionally, with no Republican challengers, Walton is all but assured to become the first woman to hold the position in Buffalo’s history and the first self-declared Socialist to be elected to lead a major U.S. city since 1960.
When asked by reporters if she considers herself a socialist, Walton answered quickly.
“Oh, absolutely,” Walton replied. “The entire intent of this campaign is to draw down power and resources to the ground level and into the hands of the people.”
Walton’s platform includes tackling an affordable housing crisis, making Buffalo a sanctuary city, making public safety and police reform, including barring police from responding to mental health calls and checks, discontinuing the enforcement of low-level drug offenses, and requiring unpaid leave for officers under investigation for police brutality.
Last summer, the Buffalo Police Department gained nationwide exposure for shoving 75-year-old Martin Gugino to the ground, giving him a concussion and a fractured skull. Officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski were charged with second-degree assault, but the charges were later dropped by the Erie County District Attorney John Flynn.
“This victory is ours.
It is the first of many.
If you are in an elected office right now, you are being put on notice.
— People for Bernie (@People4Bernie) June 23, 2021
“This victory is ours,” Walton said in her victory speech Tuesday. “And the first of many. If you are in an elected office right now, you are being put on notice: we are coming.”
Walton wasn’t the only politician in the area celebrating a victory Tuesday. In Rochester, about 80 miles east of Buffalo, Malik Warren defeated two-term Mayor Lovely Warren, who was indicted on campaign finance charges last October and widely criticized for her handling of the Daniel Prude killing by Rochester Police.