Buffalo has an increasing problem with affordable housing. Inclusionary Zoning ensures that housing is affordable for low- or moderate-income residents. The Common Council has discussed this issue for far too long, and it’s time to finally take action. The only real chance to bring Inclusionary Zoning to Buffalo is if I'm elected -- because this seemingly endless discussion will turn into action. I'm committed to ensuring there are affordable housing opportunities across our city, and I will explore every option available to help people stay in their homes and in their neighborhoods.
Air quality in Buffalo -- particularly around the West Side/Peace Bridge neighborhoods -- is unacceptable. Disproportionate rates of asthma exist on the West Side, so bad that corner convenience stores sell inhalers. I will work with local environmental experts and advocates, as well as residents affected by air quality, to establish policies that will ensure all Buffalonians are breathing clean air.
I will work with the arts community instead of shutting them down. A vibrant city should embrace the arts and culture. My administration will empower local artists, work with them to bring art to more public places, and link them to youth organizations to cultivate the next generation of artists.
Historically, the Common Council only changes less than one percent of what the mayor recommends. When I am mayor, I will hold a public hearing BEFORE I submit a budget to the Common Council, so I can listen to the people of Buffalo on what their priorities are for our City.
The people spoke, and the people were ignored. Nearly 90 percent of Buffalo residents preferred the Central Terminal as the new train station site, but closed-door decisions lacking in public input resulted in the wrong choice. I will work to reverse this decision immediately upon being elected.
Once redeveloped, the Central Terminal will not be just a train station, but a mixed-use destination with retail, housing, and other amenities. This would increase the tax revenue the city receives for this neighborhood by boosting private development - similar to what we are seeing in Larkinville and the Old First Ward.
Public officials need to do a lot less talking and a lot more listening, which is why I've held Community Listening Sessions throughout the city since my campaign kicked off. People have a right to make their voices heard. Everyone will have a seat at the table under my administration.
There is too much in danger of special interests, especially from out of state, co-opting the constitutional convention for me to support it. I will never support an effort that has the potential to dismantle unions or strip workers’ rights.
Many of Buffalo residents cannot get a decent paying job because they lack a high school diploma. This is a major issue I will address as mayor.
I have experience on this exact issue. As State Assemblyman, I tackled this problem by creating a free education center in a neighborhood with low graduation rates. We offered GED and job training classes using a unique curriculum and qualified teachers. This program became the most successful of its type in NY State. Over 700 citizens have received their GED using this center. As mayor, I will establish this program in every part of the city. We need to prepare our citizens for the jobs of tomorrow, and that starts today.
I will work closely with both Superintendent Cash and the school board to address shortcomings and build off successes in order to achieve a high quality preK-12 education system for Buffalo students.
Additionally, Buffalo will look to the successes of schools in other cities so we can increase graduation rates and close the achievement gap.
I will listen to the people of Buffalo about what kind of development they want in their neighborhoods. I will get input from neighbors and small businesses on future development, not just wealthy developers. And when I set a policy, I’ll adhere to it.
Although not a municipal issue, I support the NY Health Act -- which establishes universal health care and removes financial barriers to care while allowing people to go to the doctor or hospital of their choice.
We need a plan for the 198 that takes into account the safety and enjoyment of pedestrians, bicyclists, and everyone using Delaware Park. As Mayor, I will take an active role in the future plans for the 198, letting the state DOT know that it is the people of Buffalo who should be shaping this decision, not bureaucrats in Albany.
A Reuters investigation concluded that Buffalo is a "Hotbed for Lead." The City has failed to acknowledge the lead poisoning problem, how it does not work closely with Erie County to address the problem, and how it ignores successful lead inspection programs in Rochester.
Experts have said if Buffalo does what Rochester does - inspect homes on a regular cycle for lead paint risks - our lead levels will be much lower. If I'm elected Mayor, there will be more vigorous lead testing of housing stock and our drinking water.
I support any and all legislation that protects the rights of the LGBTQ community. City government will become more inclusive under my administration, and discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated. In terms of the workplace and community, I believe it is both a moral imperative and human rights obligation that we protect our disenfranchised communities.
I'm going to represent ALL of Buffalo. Private and taxpayer-subsidized development downtown and on the waterfront are the norm, but our neighborhoods -- on the east, west, north, and south sides of the city -- have been left behind. The disparities in development and quality of life in the City of Buffalo are unacceptable, so I will place an emphasis on developing our neighborhoods.
As Mayor, I will work to ensure people have access to the training, education, and mentoring they need to to advance their careers and support their families. I will also push to raise the minimum wage to $15 by linking it to inflation, so that working people's wages keep pace with their expenses.
Neighborhoods across the city, especially the East Side, have been left behind. Our strength and success as a city depends on much more than waterfront and downtown development -- it's our neighborhoods that need support. Some plans I have for neighborhoods, including the East Side can be found on our Neighborhood Development page.
To combat the public health crisis that is the opioid epidemic, we can no longer take approaches that don't work. I will work with the BPD in launching public information campaigns on programs like the REAP Initiative. The REAP Initiative is similar to the widely successful Angel Program in Gloucester, MA, which provides addicts with immediate treatment rather than jail sentences. It’s proven to help combat addiction and is more cost-effective than sending addicting through a revolving door of the criminal justice system.
Mental health and addiction often go hand-in-hand, and as mayor I will ensure that addicts and people with mental illness alike are aware of the services available to them.
Participatory Budgeting (PB) “allows people in neighborhoods to know how the budget is allocated and how money is spent," said Brian Borncamp, community organizer with the Clean Air Coalition. "It puts the decision-making power in the hands of people who live in the communities where the money is being spent and decisions are being made. It moves real dollars and real decision-making power in the hands of neighborhood residents. They can come together to vote on proposals."
Mr. Borncamp said it best. And when I'm mayor, we're bringing participatory budgeting to all neighborhoods.
We need a Pollution Control Citizens Board in Buffalo. The board should be comprised of citizens, members of advocacy groups like the Clean Air Coalition, and environmental experts -- with transparency and innovation at the forefront of addressing pollution in the city.
We can no longer afford to kick the can down pothole-ridden roads. Plain and simple: All neighborhoods will be addressed.
My plans for economic development (as well as education and job training) will address the unacceptable and overlooked poverty in Buffalo. When more than half of Buffalo’s children -- and a third of its residents -- live in poverty, it’s clear that we must find innovative solutions to change the present and pave the way for the future. Additionally, poverty and crime go hand-in-hand, so in order to address crime, we must also address poverty.
I will identify historic buildings that are at risk, and aggressively enforce our building codes to the fullest extent in order to prevent "demolition by neglect."
As stated in my plan for Safe Streets, our police will receive the training the police union said they are starving for – so that they can work in tandem with residents to ensure our streets are safe. Better training in the areas of de-escalation, cultural sensitivity, and mental health recognition will keep both citizens and officers safe.
When I’m mayor, the department will finally become accredited.
I will get feedback from both citizens and rank-and-file officers on how I can help them work together to fight crime. You can’t get a sense of the challenges we face from City Hall, so I will go into the community - block clubs, schools, streets, police stations - to listen to our residents and our officers on ways to make our streets safer.
I will double the number of Community Police Officers in every district to strengthen the bond with residents and build trust in the neighborhoods. CPOs have the best understanding of the neighborhoods in which they serve.
I support ending discriminatory check points and establishing citizen oversight groups like our neighbors in Rochester have successfully done. Establishing trust and accountability is key.
I established the South Buffalo Chamber of Commerce to help business owners, and I plan to establish a city-wide chamber so business owners have resources and connections to build and improve their businesses.
As comptroller, I hired CPAs and started Open Book Buffalo to increase transparency, shut down corrupt vendors, and to make it loud and clear that Buffalo taxpayers will not be fooled.
The city’s public transit system is severely outdated, underfunded, and unreliable. When 30 percent of Buffalonians do not own a vehicle, it’s clear that we cannot keep using short-terms fixes for our long-term transportation problem. We need a long-term comprehensive solution that will ensure our roads and bridges are safe to drive on, our transit network meets the needs of our residents, and our businesses are not incurring unnecessary costs. A robust transportation system helps ensure a robust local economy.
I will bring back the anti-gang task force, which had success in fighting gang activity and violence before it was foolishly eliminated. I will also secure funding to implement nationally-renowned policies and programs, such Operation CeaseFire, to combat gang violence. Additionally, I will give our youth an opportunity to have safe places to go in their neighborhoods. I plan to open schools at night and on the weekends to give our youth a safe haven from the streets.
The governor proposed $2 billion for the Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017, an initiative that will allocate funds to areas across the state with contaminated water. While the State Senate’s Environmental Conservation report highlighted five areas around the state where tainted water supplies were found, Western New York was not included. I will call on the governor to allocate funding to Western New York so we can combat pollution and our outdated water infrastructure.
I plan to increase and improve after school and summer youth programs so that young people AND their families can be connected with supportive services and in turn, be better connected to their communities. As mayor, I will make sure that every single community center is properly funded with sports and afterschool programs for all ages.