In an interview on Hardline with Dave Debo, on WBEN NewsRadio 930 AM, County Legislator Betty Jean Grant said she intends to enter the race for Mayor of Buffalo in a formal announcement later this week.
Grant says that conditions of the city — especially on the East Side — “are just as prevalent” as they were the day Mayor Byron Brown was elected. She points to high rates of unemployment, no job opportunities, broken training programs, dilapidated neighborhoods, and continued decline.
She is particularly angry about the poor quality of public services.
“People are forced to walk in the street because the sidewalks are unusable. It’s so bad that we lost a child this year because her mother was unable to navigate the sidewalks,” she noted. A vehicle hit that woman’s stroller in the Delevan Grider neighborhood, killing her infant child.
Grant does not plan on asking the Erie County Democrats for the party’s endorsement, noting that Brown is the State Chairman — anointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo himself.
“I did not ask for the endorsement, because I know I would not be considered,” she added. “The fact that I won’t get the endorsement, it doesn’t deter me.”
Debo asked if Grant was concerned that she might “split” the city’s African American vote, advantaging Comptroller Mark Schroeder’s candidacy. Grant energetically disagreed.
“To split the vote, you have to have two options. Mark has a lot of African American support, and his own base of Black voters… I can’t split anything that has never been whole anyways,” she explained.
“When I ran for State Senate I pulled more votes from South Buffalo than from the First Ward of Lackawanna, which is about 90% African American. I did well in Cheektowaga. I have never expected to have support from just African Americans,” she argued. “This is a diverse city, and I’m going to campaign in every part of it.”
“You can’t split anything that’s not whole,” she insisted again. “We have been ignored. We need a fighter for the Eastside and see the whole city improved. All parts of the city need to be considered and have money allocated to them.”
In 2013, Grant initiated the election law complaint with the Board of Elections that was eventually forwarded to the Attorney General and led to the indictments of the political operative G. Steven Pigeon and his two associates, Kristy Mazurek and David Phaff. The three operatives organized an illegally funded smear campaign of Grant and three other candidates for county legislature: Lynn Dearmeyer, Winnie Fisher, and Tim Houges.
When asked about Pigeon, Grant said that she thought the indictments were appropriate but didn’t go far enough — even naming Chris Grant (Congressman Collins’ Chief of Staff), Steve Casey (former Deputy Mayor of Buffalo under Brown), Frank Max (the former Cheektowaga Democratic Party Chairman), and Senator Tim Kennedy (who contributed $87,000 to the fundraising vehicle).
“This does not go far enough. These three individuals are the fall guys,” she said.
“When the investigator has a ‘D’ behind their name, and so do those being investigated, and is involved in politics at a very high level, I don’t think they will have their day in court,” she explained. “The State Police had been talking to me, and I laid out all the information. Preet Bharara’s people spoke to me for hours. I was just as candid then.”