Political news

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Republican former Erie County Executive Chris Collins has officially thrown his hat into the ring for the 27th Congressional District race.

Collins made the announcement on Saturday in an interview with the Buffalo News. Should Collins survive a June primary against fellow Republican David Bellavia, he would face incumbent Democrat Kathy Hochul in November.

Collins suffered a stinging defeat in his re-election bid for County Executive to Mark Poloncarz. In a special election, Hochul upset Jane Corwin, a Republican candidate, who was heavily supported by Collins.

Kearns's status with Assembly Democrats uncertain

Mar 21, 2012

Michael "Mickey" Kearns, the South Buffalo Common Council member, is basking in victory one day after his unexpected landslide win over Christopher Fahey for the vacant 145th State Assembly District seat. Kearns will head off to Albany on Thursday.

Mayor Byron Brown congratulated Kearns, his former mayoral challenger, while meeting with reporters Wednesday.

"It was a very hard-fought campaign between two candidates that worked very aggressively. The people have spoken," said Mayor Brown.

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Voters in the 145th State Assembly District will be heading to the polls Tuesday for a special election.

Two democratic candidates from South Buffalo area vying to fill the seat left vacant by former Assemblyman Mark Schroeder -- South District Common Council member Michael Kearns and Chris Fahey, staffer to Congressman Brian Higgins. 

Both recently participated in a Webcast debate hosted by the Buffalo News.  Buffalo News reporter Brian Meyer joined his colleague political reporter Bob McCarthy asking the questions.

Photo by Karen Dewitt

Three candidates will be on the ballot in the Republican primary race for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Kirsten Gillibrand.  New York City attorney Wendy Long received the most votes in Friday's convention in Rochester with around 47%, followed by Congressman Bob Turner and Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos, who both received just over the 25% required to avoid seeking petitions.  Long, a New York City attorney who is originally from New Hampshire, says she has many similarities with Gillibrand.

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WBFO and AM 970's Chris Jamele speaks with Artvoice editor Geoff Kelly in this week's Press Pass conversation.

Local election news kicks off their interview, specifically, the special election for the 145th Assembly seat.

Chris and Geoff also discuss Artvoice's review of a possible satellite location for the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.



Redistricting amendment faces scrutiny

Mar 12, 2012
Photo from North Country Public Radio Web

Legislative leaders are crafting a constitutional amendment to create a bi partisan panel to draw new legislative and congressional district lines after the next census in 2020.

Talks have centered on a 10 member panel, five Democrats and five Republicans, appointed by the majority and minority parties of the legislature, with appointees coming equally from both parties in the legislature. 

DucDigital / via Flickr

New York has the highest tobacco taxes in the country, inhaling more than $1 billion a year. That's why cigarettes cost $11 a pack.

The lion’s share of that money goes into the state’s general fund. According to a coalition of anti-smoking advocates, including the Cancer Society and American Heart Association, only four percent of smoking tax proceeds are spent on the state’s Tobacco Control Program. The fund aims to educate New Yorkers about the health risks associated with smoking or chewing.

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Super Tuesday for republican candidates is now history.  Mitt Romney emerged as winner after a close race with rival Rick Santorum.

Newt Gingrich places third with Ron Paul trailing behind the republican candidates. 

WBFO and AM-970’s Jay Moran had three conversations Wednesday morning with University at Buffalo Political professor James Campbell, associate professor Joshua Dyck and Erie County Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy. 

Each provided their perspective on Super Tuesday’s outcome. 


Creative commons

Plans to build a new Eric Community College (ECC) building at its North Campus in Amherst have drawn steady criticism over the past year from opponents who argue the project would perpetuate suburban sprawl.

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Competing redistricting plans -- written by the State Senate and Assembly -- ready for submission to a federal judge could greatly alter the representation of Congresswoman Louise Slaughter's 28th district. 

The plans have yet to be made public, but the Buffalo News is reporting that Buffalo and Niagara Falls would be removed from  Slaughter's district, as part of a shift that would bring her closer to Rochester. 

The Erie County Conservative party is endorsing Democrat Charles Swanick for the State Senate seat currently held by Mark Grisanti.  

Swanick served 26 years in the County Legislature before retiring in 2005. 

Grisanti has been the focus of national news coverage for his involvement in a scuffle a few weeks ago, but it appears that attention did little to swing support toward Swanick.

Conservative Party Chair Ralph Lorigo said Grisanti's support of marriage equality legislation alienated him from party leaders.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney won Tuesday's Republican presidential primary in Florida.  Romney rebounded from his defeat ten days ago in South Carolina, taking a major step toward the GOP nomination.  But UB Political Scientist James Campbell says the race is far from over. 

WBFO's Mark Scott reached Campbell on the phone Tuesday night for his analysis of the Florida primary.

Mitt Romney is pledging to "go back to work" as the Republican presidential campaign shifts to the next primary state in South Carolina.  Romney easily outdistanced the field Tuesday in the nation's first primary in New Hampshire. 

WBFO's Mark Scott reached UB Political Science Professor James Campbell his analysis.

WBFO News File Photo

Governor Andrew Cuomo said he is committing $1 billion over the next several years to jump start economic development in Buffalo. 

The Governor made the announcement as he delivered his State of the State Address from Albany Wednesday afternoon.

The $1 billion would be in addition to the $100 million a new regional economic development council approved for Western New York. 

Administration officials say the $1 billion package will send a message to industries worldwide that if they come to Buffalo, financing will be available.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney narrowly slipped past the rest of the GOP field to win Tuesday night's Iowa caucuses. 

The photo-finish saw Romney beat Rick Santorum by eight votes, with Ron Paul in a close third.  Now it's on to the primaries in New Hampshire and then South Carolina. 

University at Buffalo political scientist James Campbell, a nationally recognized scholar on presidential politics, joined WBFO's Mark Scott to talk about the results.

Fontana elected new common council president

Jan 3, 2012
WBFO News photo by Ashley Hassett

The Buffalo Common Council has elected new leadership. 

Lovejoy District lawmaker Richard Fontana has been elected to serve as Common Council president, knocking out long-time council president David Francyzk. 

Lawmakers voted in favor of Fontana to serve as next council president. 

“Having worked with and looked up to many Council Presidents, it is a sincere honor to be elected by my colleagues to the office. A strong, independent, and proactive legislative branch of government is and always has been my vision for the Common Council," said Fontana.

WBFO News file photo

Although the Erie County Executive's office was open to the public on Sunday following Mark Poloncarz's oath of office, Tuesday was his first official day in his new job.  Poloncarz marked the occasion by signing and issuing five executive orders.

 The very first order he signed begins the process of finding legal assistance as Erie County prepares to negotiate a new Ralph Wilson Stadium lease with the Buffalo Bills.  The current deal with the football team ends later this year.

WBFO News photos by Marian Hetherly

Erie County's new County Executive says his first order of business this week will be to issue several executive orders aimed at weeding out waste, fraud and abuse in County government. 

WBFO's Marian Hetherly reports on the swearing in Sunday of Mark Poloncarz.

"Today, County government is back in the hands of those who own it: the people of Erie County," said Poloncarz.

County executive-elect appoints senior positions

Dec 28, 2011

Erie County Executive-elect Mark Poloncarz has issued his appointments for senior positions in his upcoming administration.

Poloncarz has appointed commissions of Health, Emergency Services and Environment and Planning, Director of Budget and Management and County Attorney.

File Photo

2011 saw a return to normalcy in the State Capitol.  After four years of high profile scandals, a new governor worked with both parties to pass an ambitious agenda, including a property tax cap and a gay marriage law. 

The dysfunction that was so typical of state government the past four years disappeared in 2011.  Governor Andrew Cuomo came into office determined to pass an on-time budget and more.  Ken Lovett, Albany bureau correspondent for the New York Daily News, says it was a refreshing change...

Congresswoman Kathy Hochul has introduced legislation that will enhance 9-1-1 communications systems.

The bill is known by the acronym, ALERT ACT, which stands for Allowing Local Emergency Response Technicians to Accept Cellular Texts Act. Hochul's action would require emergency call centers update their handling of emergency text messages and to send an error message if the transmission did not go through.

The FCC would enforce the mandates.

WBFO News file photo

There is expected to be a change in leadership in the Buffalo Common Council.  WBFO'S Eileen Buckley says for the last eight years, Fillmore District lawmaker David Francyzk has served as Council president, but now Lovejoy District Council member Richard Fontana is apparently gaining new support to lead the Common Council in 2012

A man who served as a commissioner in both county and city government has been tapped as the next deputy county executive. 

Erie County Executive-elect Mark Poloncarz Monday announced he has selected Richard Tobe to serve in his administration. 

Yesterday in Erie County Hall, legislators were urged to support a resolution calling on New York State to get tougher with its anti-bullying laws.  WBFO's Michael Mroziak spoke with a local State Assemblyman to find out just how lawmakers in Albany are taking on the topic of bullying.

Ryan says Grisanti staying in GOP is good for WNY

Oct 6, 2011

State Senator Mark Grisanti is telling the Buffalo News that in spite of the criticism he's getting from conservatives for his vote to legalize gay marriage, he has no plans to jump back to the Democratic Party.

Grisanti has led some to speculate whether the Republican might return to his original party, but Grisanti is telling the newspaper he's comfortable in his place with the G.O.P.

In Buffalo, State Assemblyman Sean Ryan suggests Grisanti remaining a Republican works to the advantage of the entire local delegation.


Cheektowaga, NY – Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown returned from Washington Wednesday after attending the Inauguration. WBFO'S Eileen Buckley caught up with Brown as he arrived at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport Wednesday afternoon.

Mayor Brown confirmed that while he was in D.C., he met with Governor David Paterson to discuss the U.S. Senate seat.

Buffalo, NY – The pomp and ceremony are now over. Wednesday, President Barack Obama gets to work. His agenda is a full one -- wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a struggling economy here.

photo courtesy of Kittinger

Buffalo, NY – The President and Vice President sat in Kittinger made chairs from Buffalo during Tuesday's Inauguration.

Kittinger received a letter last month asking the company to make two Presidential fireside chairs and a small wine table. The chairs match six chairs made by the company in 2005 used during the Bush Inauguration ceremony. Kittinger says it was very happy that Western New York had such a meaningful part in this Historical event.

Buffalo, NY – The inauguration of the nation's first African-American president touched people. WBFO invited listeners to share some of their thoughts about this historic event.

Click the audio player above to hear some of their comments now or use your podcasting software to download them to your computer or iPod.

Washington, DC – WBFO's Doug Blakely traveled to Washington yesterday for the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Doug spent hours standing in the cold, just to catch a quick glimpse of the new president in the inaugural parade.

Mark Scott reached Doug on his cell phone to find out how it went. Click the audio player above to hear the interview now or use your podcasting software to download it to your computer or iPod.