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Next story: Our City, Our People

We Have Your Nominees

The ballots are counted, we have your nominees—and you, dear reader, are Buffalo’s next mayor

Well, folks, you’ve done it again: This year our readers submitted more than 2,000 valid ballots, most of them online, setting a new record for participation, eclipsing last year’s total, which surpassed the total the year before, and so on.

And once again, dear readers, you’ve proved yourself a stubborn and opinionated lot. You prefer red-sauce-and-meatball joints to fine Italian dining. You love Jim’s Steakout. To you, who live in a town where we give visitors directions using landmarks that haven’t been there for 20 years, a restaurant that opened five years ago still qualifies in the “Best New Restaurant” category.

You long for the things you longed for lat year and 10 years ago: better leadership, a Stanley Cup, waterfront development, a new Mexican restaurant. You despise out-of-towners who turn their noses up at Buffalo or make fun of her traditions. When you want good German food, you go to an Irish bar. Go figure.

A few years ago we dropped the “Best Politician” and “Worst Politician” categories, because the top five finishers were always the same people: Buffalo’s current mayor, Erie County’s current executive, a member or two of Congress, and usually, somewhere in the mix, former Assemblyman Sam Hoyt. Sam left office last spring to take a sweet gig as Governor Andrew Cuomo’s man in Western New York, but I am sure that if we reinstated the category next year, he’d still be voted on to both lists.

In any case, Hoyt, the man who might have been mayor, inspired this year’s essay question: “If I were mayor of Buffalo, I’d…” We enjoyed quite a number of articulate, sincere, and well considered responses, as well as some less sincere and some bizarre.

For example, Cramen Walling wrote:

If I were the Mayor of Buffalo, I would get together with the Mayor of Pittsburgh, Luke Ravenstahl, and ask him how he took the City of Pittsburgh from the brink of bankruptcy to paying off nearly $300 million in debt in just five years in office. The man obviously knows about turning a city around. Why not simply ask him?

Marilyn Rodgers wrote:

Repair infrastructure - roads, sidewalks, curbs

Add more beauty to the entry ports of our city - gardens, signage without anyone’s name on it

Create neighborhood police drop-in centers that are manned and cooperative

Prevent sales of properties to those who have current cases in Housing Court, have Conditional Discharges from Housing Court, or have two or more properties in violation of code.

Sell vacant properties to qualified individuals (show them plans and ability to pay for imporvements) for $1.00

Have out-of-town investors post bonds on their properties until such time as the properties are fully licensed; have no record of poor tenant/ownership issues; and provide a contribution to the neighborhood they are located in.

David Squires wrote:

If I were mayor of Buffalo, I would use Governor Cuomo’s billion dollar economic package to court Google’s future teleportation development division to Buffalo.

And Jack Courteney wrote:

I would first leverage my ethnicity to get garner a stranglehold on the town. Make shady backdoor deals as favors and pander to money from outside the city limits rather than pay attention to struggling urban neighborhoods. Am I right? Isn’t this what any Buffalo Mayor would do?

Andy Deluca wants water slides. Nadine Fulle wants to undo the city’s entire power elite and dismiss the city’s board of education. Aaron Water, like many of our readers, wants the city to trade on its rich arts and cultural assets and turn the city’s empty lots into uban farms.

Rick Matthews says he’d dramtically reform the office of the mayor:

If I were mayor of Buffalo, things would be a little bit different. First change, would be the title of mayor. I would now be called the Supreme Slice of Awesome. My first order as the S.S.A, would be to ban the color red from all of the tape at the waterfront. Old garbage would get torn down, and new goodness would get put up. I’d open up my own Bass Pro, only it would be the Bass Guitar, and it would be a slap bass party all the time.Not only would I allow foodtrucks, but all restauraunts would be obligated to have their own food trucks, and ready to drive to anywhere I am, so I can indulge my need to eat food at any whim. The Buffalo School Superintendant would only have one job. Making kids learn. Enough politicking, leave that to the S.S.A.

Now that you mention it, the school board, and common council would have their jobs severely reduced. Their new job titles would be as follows. Shut up. Make peoples lives better. Not your own. Citizens. Too hard?.Fired.Too many arguments? Fired. The S.S.A. can do that now.

Kristen Hubbell “would eat a ham sandwhich at my desk and watch my fish tank.” Jeffrey sandman “would not want to be put in that position.” Terry Hoos would quit. Bill Ackley would “abdicate in favor of someone without a sad bunch of cronies to pay back.” Brendan Flake would burn down the city and start again. Eric Duvall thinks the city’s semmingly insoluble problems can be resolved with beer:

Ever since Jimmy Griffin cemented the six-pack as the official cure to Buffalo winters, our mayors have been judged not just on their (in)ability to develop the waterfront, but how much they reflect the city’s blue collar, pint-tipping roots.

It’s a fantastic idea to get to BE the mayor, too. Hold one beer blast. Use the money to hold another one. Use the money from the first two to hold two more, etc. All the while, register voters for a newly formed Beers for Buffalo political party. Our platform will be flexible — everything but religion and politics. All council resolutions will no longer start with “Whereas ...” and instead will begin with “You know what they oughta do ...”

Bernice Radle has a 14-point plan for her administration:

• If I was mayor of Buffalo, I would first let everyone know that I am not in this for under the table deals and monies and push for transparency in local government.

• Promote regionalism in our government decisions including tax breaks, urban planning initatives, investment and new building decisions.

• Advocate for smart growth regionally as well as within the city to encourage a walkable, dense, transit oriented city that builds off of our current built environment.

• Implement a city wide inventory of all of our building stock. This will allow us to make better urban planning decisions, figure out who should or should not be in housing court, advocate for pro development of our existing vacant buildings, understand how large our vacant housing crisis is and address it, promote and sell existing real estate that the city owns that can be rehabbed instead of being demolished etc..

• Overhaul of the NFTA, get bike racks on every bus, have consistant bus schedules, have an online app where you can track the bus, bring back low transfer rates and the ability to use the credit card on the train.

• Create a grant program for local people who want to buy houses that the city owns. Use current demolition/rehab money to promote rehab of our building stock instead of removing it.

• Implement a preservation plan - city wide which will be based on the city wide building stock inventory results, the current preservation districts, the department of interior preservation standards and other city needs.

• Throw a Buffalo party in a grain elevator.

• Push the green code to take away minimum parking requirements and minimum lot sizes.

• Help build the green economic zone that PUSH is doing by creating a green incentive program city wide for small energy initiatives.

• Implement the complete streets program with bicycle lanes next to the sidewalks, innovative ideas on street scapes including low impact development, smart cross walk ideas, street scape improvements.

• Bring ECC downtown - all three campuses in one hub.

• Light up the skyway and the grain elevators with a solar array and LED technology.

• Develop a city wide model based on Buffalo First! to promote local, regional initatives and incentives for our local economy.

Hallelujah to all that—anyone have a ballot line Bernice can run on?

We’ll publish more mayoral aspirations on AV Daily at over the next few days. In the meantime, on the following pages you’ll find all your top five finishers. As always, we’ll announce the winners at our big Best of Buffalo Party, which takes place Monday, May 14, at the Town Ballroom, with entertainment and food provided by our nominees. Doors open at 6pm.

— Geoff Kelly

Best of Buffalo 2012: Intro

Our City, Our PeopleDining Out

NightlifeMusicThe Fine Arts

Shops & Services

And the Winners Are...

Nominees listed in each category represent the top 5 vote-getters in their respective categories, listed in no particular order. Best of Buffalo winners were the top vote-getter in their category.

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