Election Day is around the corner and for the City of Buffalo’s Common Council, five of the eight seats are up for grabs. Though some of the faces will change, the chamber will remain under Democratic control.
In the Niagara District, Democrat David Rivera is being challenged by restaurant owner Mark Supples, the only candidate in the field running on the Republican ticket.
Four districts (North, South, Delaware, and Ellicott) have Democratic incumbents running unopposed. With the retirements of David Franczyk and Richard Fontana, the Fillmore and Lovejoy districts are losing longtime council members.
After 22 years, Fontana said it was time for new leadership in his district.
“As a city council member, you really have to set the tone for your neighborhood,” Fontana said. “If you don’t set it, someone else might.”
Fontana says one advantage incumbents have is their experience in navigating city municipalities.
“It does bring a lot of advantages. It’s the fact that if someone calls, we instantly know what to do,” he said. “When something hits the council floor, we instantly know what to do. And that brings a lot of institutional knowledge, and also tell the new members what they should avoid and what they should try to do.”
Art Robinson is President of the Seneca-Babcock Block Club. His neighborhood sits in both the Fillmore and Lovejoy Districts. He said Fontana will be hard to replace.
“I worked on Richie when he first became a councilman in 1998. But Richie’s always been there. It’s going to be really tough,” Robinson said.
Robinson said hebelieves Bryan Bollman, Fontana’s former chief of staff, will win his district’s seat.
In Fillmore, David Franczyk is retiring after serving on the council for 32 years.
“The elected official or council member is just a reflection of the wider community,” Franczyk told WBFO.
Franczyk says he was raised respecting the voting process and has not missed an election since turning 18.
“It’s almost like a religious experience, that it’s my obligation as a citizen of America,” he said.
Franczyk’s Fillmore District will have three people vying to defeat Mitchell Nowakowski, who won the Democratic Primary in June. Nowakowski served under Rivera for over three years.
Overall, it looks like the November elections will be another clean sweep for Democrats in the Common Council.