By: Ciara McAuliffe — Correspondent
Byron Brown proclaimed victory to a cheering crowd on November 2nd, marking the end of his write-in mayoral campaign against Democratic socialist nominee India Walton — and the start of his historical fifth term in office.
“Today’s election was not just a referendum on the direction of the City of Buffalo, it was a referendum on the future of our democracy,” said Brown Tuesday night. “At the very beginning, they said we can’t win, that it was impossible to win as a write-in. But you know, you can never count a Buffalonian out.”
Brown sat out of the nominating contest. He instead ran a well-funded general election campaign and asked for Democrat, Independent, and Republican voters to “Write Down Byron Brown.” To avoid cases of misspelling on election day, Brown’s campaign distributed a stamp with his name by the tens of thousands.
Tuesday’s election results came as a surprise to some. Various polls during the general election campaign indicated Brown leading, but campaign experts lacked confidence in their accuracy due to the uncertain nature of the write-in process.
Walton, endorsed by the Democratic Party after winning the primary, also received support from national figures such as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Walton promised new ways of doing business that would cut out big donors and developments while supporting grassroots programs for the city’s poor.
She also promised to cut funding to the Police Department by 7.5 million dollars. “We’re not defunding; we are reinvesting in communities, we are putting money in places that we know naturally reduce crime, like jobs and affordable housing,” said Walton. Brown attacked such promises during his campaign, which garnered support from Republican voters.
“The stakes are dire and extreme if she was to get elected,” said Brown in a CNN interview shortly before the early voting began. “She would take our city horribly back. She would compromise our public safety. She would raise our taxes. She would attack other elected officials up and down the ballot. It would be a nightmare for every person in our community.”
On the nature of Brown’s campaign during a CNN interview, Walton says that every ad he releases is an attack on her. “An honorable campaign would be him sharing the plans he has for the future of Buffalo. An honorable plan would be him owning up to the fact that he disrespected Buffalo voters by not running a primary contest,” said Walton.
“I won the Democratic primary,” Walton said. “I won because Democrats turned out and voted for me. But we have corporate Democrats who are so desperate to cling to what little power they have left and stave off the progressive wing of our party.”
In a statement addressing the election results, Walton acknowledged her loss. “I couldn’t be more proud of the campaign we ran. Our volunteer operation was unprecedented in Buffalo political history. We introduced Buffalo to bold, transformative ideas like Community Land Trust, LIFE Camp, and survivor-based restorative justice, and earned tens of thousands of votes for our vision,” said Walton.
Brown promised the progress he claimed during his first four terms would continue into his fifth.