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We don’t ordinarily name the winners of the Best of Buffalo contest until the big party at Town Ballroom (Monday, April 14, free to all, with lots of food and live music), where we reveal and celebrate all the top vote-getters. But I don’t think I’m giving too much away by revealing who did not win a specific category this year.

The worst politicians never die; they only fade way. Thus Joel Giambra—despite a still ample campaign war chest that affords him a continued, if quiet, presence on the local political scene—has finally ended his reign as Western New York’s most loathed politician. Giambra snatched that crown from Buffalo Mayor Tony Masiello in 2005, after the county budget fiasco that gave Albany the excuse it needed to saddle us with what is ironically called a “control” board.

Now Erie County’s former county executive has become a lobbyist (which suggests a new Best of Buffalo category for next year) who conducts his business far from public scrutiny, in conference calls and pricey Manhattan restaurants. And so the people have turned their jaundiced eye to a new prince of darkness.

Who is it? With so many promising finalists—Frank Clark, who’s had a conspicuously crummy year; Chris Collins, who’s new to this game; Tom Reynolds, after whom the trophy for this category ought to be named—I don’t want to give it away. Come to the party on Monday. But I will say this: Giambra won the booby prize three years running, whether he deserved it or not. Often he took flak, and credit in the good times, for the deeds of folks close to him—folks for whom there is no AV Best of Buffalo award.

That’s not fair to the Steve Caseys of this world, and we know that. So here’s to you, Wonder Boy: We give credit were credit is due. We hope your boss does, too.

But enough politicians.

“It’s the people,” they say, when they try to explain what makes Western New York special. Regular people. People who look around this town and try to make a difference; who seek to entertain or inform; who can’t, despite their better angels, ever just shut up. Our readers are remarkably loyal, love them or hate them, to personalities in this town. Apart from Chris Collins, the only first-time nominees are in the Unsung Hero category: Buffalo Police Detective Dennis Delano, who is hardly unsung, having consumed barrels of ink at the Buffalo News and hours of TV news time; US military personnel overseas (some voters named specific soldiers, some offered a blanket endorsement); and—I think an inspired choice—the man who blows bubbles from his apartment window at the corner of Elmwood and Allen.

geoff kelly

Top-five vote getters, listed in no particular order. Photos by Rose Mattery
Unsung Hero
Dennis Delano
Carl Paladino
The Allen Street bubble man
Mark Goldman
US military personnel

Best Activist Group
Buffalo ReUse
PUSH Buffalo
WNY Peace Center
Women in Black
Planned Parenthood of WNY

PUSH Buffalo

Best Drag King
Bud Wyzer
Jin Klass
Geo Metro
Amy Isaacs
Adam Bomb

Best Drag Queen
Fantasee Island
Fya Valentino
Vicky Vogue
Jaymee Coxx

Best Individual Activist
Ani DiFranco
Kevin Gaughan
Harvey Garrett
Tim Tielman
Aaron Bartley

Best Local Blogger
Newell Nussbaumer
Alan Bedenko
David Torke
Sean Kennedy
Joe Illuzzi

Best Local Politician
Brian Higgins
Byron Brown
Chris Collins
Sam Hoyt
Jimmy Griffin
Best Print Journalist
Jerry Sullivan
Donn Esmonde
Jeff Simon
Jeff Miers
Michael Niman

Best Radio Personalities
Janet Snyder
Shredd & Ragan
Sandy Beach
Larry Norton

Best TV Personalities
Don Paul
Chesley McNeil
Mary Alice Demler
Victoria Hong
Don Postles

av editor pick

Best Contact Sport

Queen City Roller Girls

This year we cut the Best Amateur Sports Team category, unwittingly disallowing a vote for the Queen City Roller Girls, who won by a landslide last year. Favorite Amateur Athlete went by the wayside, too, and with it the title awarded to Mia Mauler (of the Nickel City Knockouts). So here’s an honorable mention—the least we can do—for the ladies of the flat track roller derby: the Nickel City Knockouts, the Devil Dollies, and the Suicidal Saucies.

k. o’day

Biggest Cheerleader
Newell Nussbaumer
Brian Higgins
Byron Brown
Tim Russert
Marti Gorman

Loudest Complainer
Frank Clark
Phil Rumore
Tim Tielman
Ralph Wilson
James Williams

Worst Local Politician
Byron Brown
Joel Giambra
Tom Reynolds
Frank Clark
Chris Collins

Mayor Byron Brown