Buffalo Common Council

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Buffalo Common Council
President of the Common Council
Rev. Darius G. Pridgen, (D)
Seats 9 Democrats, 5 Pro-Brown - 3 Opposition
Meeting place

The Buffalo Common Council is the legislative branch of the city of Buffalo, New York government. It is a representative assembly, with one elected member from each of nine districts: Niagara, Delaware, Masten, Ellicott, Lovejoy, Fillmore, North, University, and South. In the past, the Common Council also had as many as 5 at-large members and a Council President who were elected citywide. A 1983 downsizing eliminated two at-large members. The 2002 downsizing eliminated the remaining three at-large members and the elected Common Council President. The size of the council's membership has been shrinking roughly in tandem with the decrease in population.


The common council has evolved significantly. In its early years the Buffalo Mayor, the head of the executive branch of the Buffalo government, was also the President of the common council, the legislative branch. From 1832-1854 all Mayors were also Common Council President. Eli Cook was the first mayor who did not serve as Common Council President for his whole term as mayor. From 1832-1913, no mayor served as Common Council President. From 1913-1927 the Council was composed of the Mayor, Commissioner of Finance and Accounts, Commissioner of Public Works, Commissioner of Parks and Public Buildings, Commissioner of Public Affairs and the Mayor was the Chairman of the Board. Since 1927 no Mayor has presided over the common council.[1]


The Democratic Party is the dominant party in Buffalo politics; no Republican or other party member has won a seat on the council in several decades, and all nine seats are currently held by Democrats. These nine Democrats, however, are divided into two factions: one aligned with Mayor Byron Brown (including all three black members of the board), the other opposed to the Mayor (the Opposition).[citation needed] The current membership is as follows:

According to the web site of the City of Buffalo, there is a Majority Leader and a Minority Leader if there are members from more than one political party.[2] In practice, there is a majority leader even when all members of the council are from the same political party; a local law was passed in November 2002 to allow this.[3] Mr. Scanlon was appointed by a majority of the Council on 16 May 2012 to fill the vacancy created when Michael P. Kearns won a seat on the New York State Assembly in a special election to fill a vacancy there.[4] Mr. Scanlon secured his seat by winning in a subsequent general election. The term of all Common Council members expires in January 2016.


  1. ^ Rizzo, Michael F. (2005). Through The Mayors' Eyes: Buffalo, New York 1832-2005. Lulu Enterprises, Inc. pp. 400–5. ISBN 1-4116-3757-7. 
  2. ^ History of the Common Council City of Buffalo official website
  3. ^ ecode360.com City of Buffalo Charter, section 24-12. According to ecode360, this is not the official version. However, the City of Buffalo directs one here. It is speculated[citation needed] that this is due to a desire on the part of the City Government not to allow Citizens to actually know the law under which they have consented to live.
  4. ^ Submitted by WGRZ Web Staff Wednesday, 16 May 2012, 1:29pm Scanlon Appointed South-District Councilman

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