Buffalo’s Fillmore district is the city’s poorest. The historic Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood that was once the vibrant heart of the district is now commonly and laughably referred to as “Beirut, Lebanon.” The truth, however, is that Beirut is far better off than this section of the city, where unemployment has hovered at 41% for the last decade.
David Howard is the Democrat running on the Independence Party line. Dave Franczyk is the deeply unpopular 28-year incumbent who is grasping desperately to hang on to the seat. Earlier this year it looked like he would lose the Democratic Primary to the well known housing commissioner Joe Mascia, so he orchestrated one of the most vicious smear campaigns of the last generation.
That’s how Franczyk held on to the seat four years ago, when a similarly motivated smear campaign against Larry Adamczyk pushed him out of the race.
In fact, On June 5th of this year, Franczyk had lunch with Mascia and Assemblyman Michael Kearns. At the lunch meeting, Mascia was offered a job by the two men to step out of the race. He refused. Then, Franczyk explicitly threatened Mascia.
“I will dig up every ounce of dirt on you and make sure its on the front page of the Buffalo News — just like I did with Larry Adamczyk,” Franczyk is recalled as saying. Kearns was silent and after the threat but then prodded Mascia to drop out of the race.
Dirty politics and race baiting is the legacy that this self dealing councilman has left our city, his neighborhood collapsed and lays devastated as a result. But even in an all out reelection effort in September, Franczyk could barely muster 600 votes, buoyed by the lowest voter turnout in the district in recorded history. To political operatives, the councilman still looks weak.
In recent weeks the African American community has been mobilizing around the candidacy of Howard, a feisty public speaker with new ideas and a lot of energy.
“It’s well known that Franczyk doesn’t live in the district,” Howard explains. “His mail piles up for weeks. He lives in the suburbs.” Joe Mascia agrees that Franczyk doesn’t live in the district and offers a Snyder address where he says Franczyk is regularly domiciled.
Mascia is asking tenants at Marine Drive — who comprise about 200 votes — to back Howard.