Former Buffalo Common Council member Michael LoCurto has died. LoCurto’s mother, Joan Feroleto LoCurto announced his death in a Facebook post early Friday morning.
“I lost a part of my heart tonight. My precious Michael LoCurto has passed,” Feroleto LoCurto stated.
LoCurto was serving as the deputy commissioner in the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz issued his condolences to LoCurto family in a Facebook post.
“Joan, I offer my deepest condolences to you, Dennis, Tina and the entire family. Mike was a great leader for our entire community. He will be greatly missed by his colleagues in Erie County government and our community is worse off today due to his passing. Mark,” wrote Poloncarz.
Deputy County Executive Maria Whyte also posted her sympathies to the LoCurtos.
“A part of our heart is gone as well. We are so very sorry for your families loss-indeed it is a loss to our entire community. Our prayers are with u all,” Whyte posted.
LoCurto, a Democrat, was first appointed to serve as the Delaware District Common Council member in March of 2006, filling the vacant seat of Marc Coppola when he was elected as a state senator.
It was on the Council where he worked with his close friend and Fillmore District Council Member David Franczyk, who described LoCurto as “engaged” and “intelligent.”
LoCurto used his graduate degree in urban planning in his role as chairperson of the Council’s Community Development Committee. Franczyk said LoCurto was responsible for reviewing and shepherding many of the projects that would lead to the city’s current development boom.
Among the many topics LoCurto was passionate about were those involving social justice and democratization of the local government process. Franczyk said he was a strong supporter of participatory budgeting and legislation for the living wage.
“He was embracing ideas that were classic, good democratic ideas,” said Franczyk.
In addition to serving the community, LoCurto was well-known within it. Living along Hertel Avenue, he could be seen visiting people throughout the crowds of the Galbani Italian Heritage Festival, including during a year he was its grand marshal.
LoCurto went on to serve ten more years in the council seat then resigned in 2015 to become a deputy county commissioner.
There was no indication what he died of, Franczyk said over the years Locurto “was a fighter,” dealing with serious health issues. He lived with a blood disorder, thalassemia, which was diagnosed in his infancy and in 1996, he underwent a heart and liver transplant. In 2009, he underwent a successful kidney transplant.
Franczyk said LoCurto was an expert in American cinema, and the two would have conversations about great films from the golden age of the silver screen all the way to current times.
In looking to the future, Franczyk hopes LoCurto’s legacy of “intellectual honesty” will be one that a new generation of public servants can follow.
“I think that’s a good legacy for him, as not being afraid to be independent and go the way he thought was right.”
The following is a statement from Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz on the death of Michael LoCurto:
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Michael LoCurto. Mike served honorably and with great skill and integrity as deputy commissioner of Erie County’s Department of Environment and Planning until he could no longer do so due to his illness. An urban planner by training, Mike brought to the position the eye of a highly educated professional, but also the understanding of the public’s needs due to his decade of service on the Buffalo Common Council representing the city’s Delaware District.
Mike was passionate about public service and brought that passion to work every day he served in my administration. However, Mike LoCurto was more than a member of my administration, he was also a friend. While he could be very serious and cared deeply for our community, he had a great sense of humor and could put any person at ease. It is that seriousness mixed with humor that made him the great leader he was for Buffalo and Erie County.
My thoughts and deepest condolences are extended to Mike’s parents, Dennis and Joan, his sister Tina, the rest of his family as well as his many friends. He will be greatly missed by his colleagues in Erie County government and our community is worse off today due to his passing.”