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People Power

Even before he announced his bid for governor of New York State, developer Carl Paladino struck a powerful note in the popular imagination this past year: Carl placed in six categories this year, a feat not equaled since the heyday of Joel Giambra, who was perpetually a finalist for both best and worst politician, Western New York’s savior and its millstone, its brightest star and its biggest dunderhead. To our readers’ minds, Paladino is a fearless activist, a promoter of Buffalo, a hapless grump, a nutjob, and—leaving aside for now his current ambition (New York’s emailer-in-chief?)—possibly our next mayor.

Carl Paladino (photo by Rose Mattrey)

The Paladinos of the Best of Buffalo poll come and go, bright flames who suddenly roar, fueled by an opportune moment or issue, and consume the public stages on which they burn. Then they are abated again, until another wind blows them higher. Consider, by contrast, Kevin Gaughan, who is always there, year after year, a steady flame: perpetual finalist and occasional winner for best activist, the guy many expect to run for office again somewhere down the road. Gaughan is like Caesar in Gaul: As he tours the hinterlands, many clamor for him to return home.

As a rule, the names in the Best of Buffalo poll don’t change nearly often enough, which surely indicates how badly this town craves new blood. Aaron Bartley and People United for Sustainable Housing crashed onto the scene and into our polls in 2006, and now he’s a fixture. Bartley and PUSH continue to do great work, better every year, but is it selfish or unfaithful to wish that half a dozen activists would have eclipsed him by now? It’s understandable that Newell Nussbaumer should continue to place in numerous categories year after year—the guy is literally everywhere you want to go, always promoting a new idea, so how can he not be top of mind—but in another city there’d be a dozen more Newells out there clamoring for our attention and our volunteer time.

So here’s the AV challenge to our readers for the coming months: Let’s invent some new categories, shine a light on some new faces. Instead of telling us who the Best Individual Activist is, tell us who the next Aaron Bartley is. Tell us who the next Newell Nussbaumer is. Send your ideas to

And one last thing: Chris Collins, Byron Brown, Antoine Thompson, and Bill Stachowski: Sleep with one eye open. The people are coming for you.

geoff kelly

Finalists are listed in no particular order. Winners to be announced April 26, 6-9pm, at Town Ballroom.

Best Activist Groups

The Tea Party
Buffalo Re-Use
PUSH Buffalo
WNY Peace Center
Outcome for Equality

Best Individual Activists

Kevin Gaughan
Aaron Bartley
Carl Paladino
Mike Miller, RIP
Newell Nussbaumer

Best Local Print Journalists

Jim Heaney
Jerry Sullivan
Donn Esmonde
Jeff Miers
Mary Kunz Goldman

Best Local Blogs

Pink BFLO (
Alan Bedenko (
Jennifer Smith (
Chris Smith (

Best Local Radio Personalities

Bert Gambini, WBFO
Sandy Beach, WBEN
Janet Snyder, WKSE
Shredd & Ragan, WEDG
Tom Bauerle, WBEN

Best Local TV Personalities

Don Paul, WIVB
Kevin O’Connell, WGRZ
Don Postles, WIVB
Jodi Johnston, WGRZ
Mary Alice Demler, WGRZ

Best Local TV Hair

Don Paul, WIVB
Don Postles, WIVB
Mary Alice Demler, WGRZ
Jodi Johnston, WGRZ
Maria Genero, WGRZ

Best Drag Performers

Vanity Vogue
Gladys Over
Fantasee Island
Chevon Davis
Jayme Coxx

Buffalo’s Most Eccentric Residents

The Allentown Shoe-licker
The Allen Street Bubble Man
Eric Starchild
The Lady in White
Carl Paladino

Buffalo’s Biggest Boosters

Drew Cerza
Carl Paladino
Newell Nussbaumer
Ryan Miller
Brian Higgins

Buffalo’s Biggest Naysayers

Chris Collins
Carl Paladino
Byron Brown
Chris Smith (WNYMedia)
Commenters on Buffalo News online

People Who Ought to Run for Office

Jim Kelly
Ryan Miller
Kevin Gaughan
Newell Nussbaumer
Carl Paladino

Buffalo’s Next Mayor

Newell Nussbaumer
Byron Brown
Anyone but Byron Brown
Mickey Kearns
Carl Paladino

Politicans Most Likely to Lose Their Jobs

David Paterson
Bill Stachowski
Chris Collins
Byron Brown
Antoine Thompson

...and the nominees are:
IntroductionFood & Drink
Shops & ServicesNightlife
NomineesThe Fine Arts
People PowerOur Fair City

The 2010 Best of Buffalo Winners List

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