Tolbert Announces Bid for Buffalo Mayor as Race Heats Up

10:58 PM, May 11, 2013   |    comments
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Democrat Bernie Tolbert announces his bid for Buffalo Mayor.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -  Election season in the City of Buffalo has officially begun after a prominent Buffalo figure, who wants to be the city's next mayor, launched his campaign Sunday.

Introduced by his mother to a standing ovation, 65-year-old Democrat Bernie Tolbert said he's running for Buffalo Mayor and he's "in it to win it."

The man who once ran Buffalo's FBI Office said he intends to clean up the city schools.

"Forty-four of Buffalo's 57 public schools have been designated as failing," Tolbert said "As your mayor, I will work with all stakeholders to put an end to the shame of our public schools."

Interestingly, Tolbert held his campaign kickoff at the same downtown family center where incumbent Mayor Byron Brown launched his campaign in late March in front of a much bigger crowd.

The two will face each other in the September Democratic Primary, with the mayor sitting on a campaign fund of more than a million dollars and the endorsement of the county's democratic party chairman.

PHOTOGRAPHER: How do you win without their endorsement?
TOLBERT: Well, the Democratic Party hasn't endorsed my opponent. The chairman is going to recommend to the Democratic Party that they give the endorsement to the mayor. But that's a process that has to play out. That decision will be made by the zone chairs and the executive committee, and we'll see what happens.

Meantime, the Republican candidate for mayor, Sergio Rodriguez, opened his downtown campaign headquarters Sunday.

When we reminded him the city hasn't had a Republican mayor in nearly 50 years, he said it didn't matter.

"I'm not running as a Republican. I'm not running on the Republican issues or on a Republican platform," Rodriguez said. "What I'm running is on the issues that matter most to residents of the City of Buffalo, and for providing solutions to these things -- education, crime, poverty, and unemployment."

Rodriguez will appear on the ballot as a Republican.

Mayor Brown would not speak to us on camera Saturday, but a spokesperson sent the following statement from the mayor: "I'm very proud of what we've accomplished and the great progress we have made together in Buffalo. And I look forward to sharing my record with the voters of Buffalo."

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