Common Council President Darius Pridgen took to Facebook Sunday evening to lash out against the Buffalo News for, apparently, implying that he supported a mayoral takeover of the public schools. He clearly feels his views were not represented in the piece, and expresses resentment that the public assumes that he supports mayoral control.
Pridgen is very close to the business community that has been pushing the takeover. The perception in the community is that he is much too close.
Education is a particularly touchy issue in the black community, particularly in recent months. The political power structure is mobilized on both sides of the issue — teachers unions, parent groups, charter schools, parochial schools, the business elite, the governor.
Based on his Facebook statement, Pridgen seems to take a very defensive posture, which would suggest that he has been hearing complaints from his constituents. He is a reverend and delivers a service on Sunday mornings, so the Sunday evening post on social media has raised eyebrows.
Some political observers have suggested that the behavior may be a sign that Pridgen is unable to handle the pressures and criticisms inherent in a reelection campaign. Until now, his career as a pastor has helped him largely avoid scrutiny.
“Reelections are referendums on the incumbent,” says a former city hall staffer who knows Pridgen well. “Especially first-time reelections of untested, newbie politicians.”
“The election cycle is going to be an examination of his performance in his first term, which is appropriate and how our political system should work,” he says.
While no one has yet announced a challenge to Pridgen in the Ellicott District, education is likely to become a difficult issue for all nine men who are running for reelection to the Common Council this November. Protest votes occur during turbulent moments of dissatisfaction — which become electoral waves that even the most telegenic and charismatic of politicians can’t outmaneuver.