In a split from other large labor organizations, The Buffalo Teachers Federation is endorsing Democratic primary challenger India Walton in the race for Buffalo Mayor.
The BTF, which represents more than 3,800 teachers in Buffalo's public schools, only endorses candidates who apply for their endorsement. This year it was just Incumbent Mayor Byron Brown and India Walton, who previously led the Fruit Belt Community Land Trust. Challenger Le’Candice Durham who is also on the ballot in June did not seek the endorsement.
The BTF represents Walton's largest endorsement to date. The Buffalo Building Trades Council and the Buffalo Central Labor Council are supporting Brown, an incumbent seeking an unprecedented fifth term.
BTF President Phil Rumore said the union's executive committee felt Walton was more sincere in her answers about the district.
“They felt that (Walton) answered the questions more clearly, that they were concerned that (Brown) hadn't increased education funding for education," Rumore said. "That she stood for having a Rochester-like formula for education where there's a fixed percentage that goes to the education system. And basically they felt that she was a stronger candidate on our issues.”
Rumore said the BTF has been lobbying Brown's office for an increase to the education budget for four years.
“We also have let the mayor and the council know about our position on charter schools, that they should have separate funding,” Rumore said.
Rumore said endorsement letters will go out with emails to all union's current teachers and retirees.
Walton's endorsements already include endorsements by Grassroots Law Project, Lead Locally, and the WFP Justice Fund. Brown has the backing of organizations including the Erie County Democratic Committee and the Buffalo Central Labor Council.