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Small Talk

All press is good press: Special education teacher Adrian Harris, who is running for Buffalo School Board in the Park District, was handed a little gift late last week: Mayor Byron Brown offered him a job as a parks worker in the city’s Public Workers Department. Mark Sommer of the Buffalo News reported the job offer in Sunday’s paper, along with speculation that the job offer might have been intended to convince Harris to end his campaign. Why would Brown want Harris to drop out? Because the only other candidate in the Park District is developer Carl Paladino, an old and bitter enemy with whom Brown seems to have reached a detente recently.

In Monday’s morning’s News, Sommer followed up with a report that Harris had turned the mayor down. On Tuesday, Brown said that Sommer’s article was “full of inaccuracies,” though he did not enumerate them, and that someone was trying “to create a controversy where none existed.”

That’s three days of free press attention for a candidate with little name recognition and less money, especially in comparison to his high-profile opponent. As for the accuracy os Sommer’s reporting, Harris says the only thing the News reporter got wrong was the impression that he seriously considered taking the job. Harris says he saw the offer for what it was. After all, he’d applied for the position six months earlier and been told he’d hear back from the city in a week. Suddenly, six months later and a few days before nominating petitions were due to the Erie County Board of Elections, a brief interview with the mayor and a job offer? Harris tried for a job with the city 14 years ago, during the Masiello administration, and witnessed the workings of the patronage machine back then, too. “Everyone knows how jobs are given out in this town,” Harris said, asked about the mayor’s claim that the News story was inaccurate. “But what else is he going to say?”

School board candidates line up: Adrian Harris met Tuesday’s filing deadline for nominating petitions. He submitted 996 signatures. A candidate needs 500 valid signatures to get on the ballot. Carl Paladino met the deadline and the threshold, too.

That’s the Park District, which comprises all of South Buffalo, part of Lovejoy, and a small part of the Fillmore councilmanic district. Incumbent Lou Petrucci, a city building inspector, opted not to run for re-election.

There may be contested election in five of the six Buffalo School Board districts next month, if all the nominating petitions filed by candidates are deemed valid.

Firefighter Bryon McIntyre and Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority resident commissioner Joe Mascia filed nominating petitions to run in the Central District, challenging incumbent Mary Ruth Kapsiak.

Theresa A. Harris-Tigg, who teaches at Buffalo State College, hopes to challenge incumbent Rosalyn Taylor in the East District.

Susan Gillick, a clinical psychologist with 35 years experience in public schools, and a board member of Citizen Action, is challenging North District incumbent Jay McCarthy. (McCarthy is the only incumbent that Paladino says he’ll support.) Also joining that race is Wendy Mistretta, who hold a PhD in higher education from UB.

In the West District, the board’s president, Ralph Hernandez, faces challenger James Sampson, who also ran for an at-large seat in 2011. Sampson is president of Gateway-Longview and serves on the board of Buffalo ReformED, an organization that advocates for charter schools.

The election is May 7.

Bert Dunn, Jr. is a lieutenant in the Erie County Sheriffs Department and the president of Bert’s Bikes & Fitness, the fabulously successful retail chain his parents built. He is a Democratic Party candidate for Erie County Sheriff, with the apparent backing, so far, of Erie County Democratic Party headquarters. Dunn shares an interesting characteristic with the sort of candidate recently favored by local Republican leadership: He’s pretty rich, so he can finance his own campaign—and maybe the campaigns of other Democrats, as well.

He shares another quality with the typical Republican candidate, too. This week he responded thusly to a text message from a fellow named John, an Elma Republican, who asked Dunn how he could get a campaign sign to put in his yard:

Thanks John. Dem, Republican, Conservative, Independent, etc. The Sheriff’s office is not very political, but in NY you have to run as something. I’m not an Obama or Cuomo fan. Ronny Reagan is my favorite President. I’m fiscally conservative. But you cannot run under the conservative banner alone, you need a major party. I’m hoping many Republicans look at me and see a guy who shares their values on justice and fiscal issues. Which are the most important issues for the Sheriff.

Any help would be appreciated, at any level. Let’s have a coffee or sandwich together when you have time (I’ll make it work, in fact I spend a lot of time in Elma and regularly eat at Altons, Subway and get my coffee at the Tim Hortons on Bowen) At worst we can talk about hockey.

Whoops. Probably not the best sentiments to express shortly before meeting with the Democratic Party’s Executive Committee to plead for their endorsement. The other Democratic Party hopeful is Dick Dobson, a retired lieutenant.

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