Brown gives State of the City Address, primary challenger Walton responds

Mar 5, 2021

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown gave his State of the City Address at 12 p.m. Friday. Watch it here.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown held his 2021 State of the City Address Friday afternoon highlighting responses to the Pandemic and a few upcoming plans.

This is an election year for Brown, who is currently slated to run against activist and former Fruit Belt Land Trust Executive Director India Walton in the upcoming Democratic primary.

Walton responded herself later in the afternoon with a speech on Facebook.

One of the topics Brown discussed was changes made to the Buffalo Police Department.

"We began by formally banning choke holds that have unnecessarily taken the lives of black people in police custody," Brown said. "We demanded more accountability from our police department by providing motorists with stop receipts anytime they were pulled over. This was a good start."

In Brown's speech, he added what he'd like to see moving forward.

"We've invested in non lethal options for police officers to utilize to keep everyone safe in police interactions. We've created and deployed a specially trained behavioral health team to respond to mental health calls, along with mental health professionals from Endeavour Health Services," Brown said.

Brown announced Paramount would be shooting an unnamed feature movie in Buffalo later this month.

“This is the third major motion picture that the studio has brought to Buffalo over the past few years," Brown said. "It is also truly extraordinary that we are planning to break ground on Great Point Studios, a $50 million film and television studio developed just off the campus of rich products on the reengineered Niagara Street.”

Casting calls went up earlier this week for an unnamed movie coming to the area. Brown says they are additionally planning for a 27-acre $75 million movie set located on the banks of the Buffalo River.

Brown discussed the importance of the Stand Up Buffalo porgram, which would financially aid in tenants, homeowners and small businesses.

"Finding the partners and the opportunity in this challenging time to ensure a safe, affordable and healthy housing units for all of our residents. That is what we do in Buffalo," Brown said. "But think outside the box, implement creative approaches, and scale it up to new heights approach is not new to my administration."

Walton said she’s encouraged to hear about the Stand Up initiative moving forward, but questioned the current Mayor’s efficiency.

"In the midst of a global health crisis, it's unacceptable that any individual or family has gone without running water, decent housing, and healthy food," Walton said. "With a poverty rate as high as 40% in some of our neighborhoods, I wonder how many of us had 11 months worth of savings and why we had to wait so long for release to come. Our current mayor claimed credit for restoring water services to people in need. That only happens after we the people demanded it."

Walton additionally spoke about the need for immediate financial relief, housing concerns and focused a large amount of her message on police reform.

"Similar to the Compromise of 1877, Black lives are being used as bargaining chips to uphold white supremacy, patriarchy and the status quo of enclosing wealth and power," Walton said. "Rather than implement any of the suggestions of the police advisory board, a group of qualified subject matter experts and concerned community members, the current leadership has elected to continue to propose false solutions that further feed the already bloated police budget."