Politics and government of Buffalo, New York

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Buffalo City Hall, with McKinley Monument in the foreground.

Buffalo, New York's government is run by a democratically elected mayor and council of nine members.

Local government[edit]

In addition to the mayor, the Buffalo Common Council, and the city departments (expanded below) at the municipal level, Buffalo also serves as the seat of Erie County with some of the 11 members of county legislature representing at least a portion of Buffalo.

Buffalo politics[edit]

Buffalo politics is primarily dominated by the Democratic Party. There has not been a Republican mayor since Chester A. Kowal left office in 1965, representing 50 consecutive years of Democrat leadership. Of the previous 13 mayors, dating back to 1934, there have been only three Republican mayors. Currently, the mayor, all members of the Common Council, the city comptroller, and the Chief Judge of the City Court are all Democrats.[1]

Elected officials[edit]

Buffalo is the largest of the three cities (Buffalo, Lackawanna, and Tonawanda) within, and is the seat of, Erie County. The municipal government of the City of Buffalo consists of:

Department Office Holder Party
Mayor of Buffalo[1] Byron Brown D
Buffalo Common Council[2] Rev. Darius G. Pridgen (President)
Richard A. Fontana
David Franczyk
Joseph Golombek, Jr.
Christopher P. Scanlon
Joel Feroleto
David A. Rivera (President Pro-Tempore)
Rasheed Wyatt
Ulysses O. Wingo, Sr.
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
Buffalo Comptroller[3] Mark J. F. Schroeder D
City Court Judges[4] Hon. Thomas P. Amodeo (Chief Judge)
Hon. Betty Calvo-Torres
Hon. Patrick M. Carney
Hon. Susan Eagan
Hon. Joseph A. Fiorella
Hon. Debra Givens
Hon. Craig D. Hannah
Hon. Barbara Johnson-Lee
Hon. Kevin J. Keane
Hon. Amy C. Martoche
Hon. James A. W. McLeod
Hon. JaHarr Pridgen
Hon. Robert T. Russell, Jr.
Hon. Diane Wray

State elected officials[edit]

At the state level, Buffalo is represented in the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly by:

The city is divided between two United States House of Representatives Congressional districts:

Buffalo and Rochester are the largest non-contiguous cities in the United States connected by a single congressional district.

City departments[edit]

As of October 2015 the Buffalo city government was led by:[5]

Department Commissioner Title Notes
Administration, Finance, Policy and Urban Affairs Donna Estrich Commissioner of Administration, Finance, Policy and Urban Affairs
Assessment and Taxation Department Martin F. Kennedy Commissioner, Department of Assessment and Taxation
Audit & Control Mark J. F. Schroeder Buffalo City Comptroller
Board of Education James Sampson
Theresa Harris-Tigg
Jason M. McCarthy
Sharon Belton-Cottman
Patti Bowers Pierce
Mary Ruth Kapsiak
Carl Paladino
Larry Quinn
Barbara Seals Nevergold
Ameer Dunston
President
Vice President of Student Achievement
Vice President of Executive Affairs






Student Board Member
West District Representative
East District Representative
North District Representative
Ferry District Representative
Member-at-Large
Central District Representative
Park District Representative
Member-at-Large
Member-at-Large
Buffalo Arts Commission Catherine Gillespie
David Granville
Donald J. Siuta
James Cooper
Thomas Chestnut
Kathleen Rooney
Susana Tejada
Joanna Angie
Gerald Mead
James Pappas
Catherine Linder Spencer
Ted Pietrzak
Elisabeth Clarkson
Chair











Mayoral Appointee
Mayoral Appointee
Mayoral Appointee
Mayoral Appointee
Mayoral Appointee
Mayoral Appointee
Mayoral Appointee
Common Council Appointee
Common Council Appointee
Common Council Appointee
Common Council Appointee
Common Council Appointee
Honorary Commissioner
Buffalo Police Department Daniel Derenda Commissioner
Buffalo Sewer Authority For the 28th year in a row GFOA issues Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting to Buffalo Sewer Authority.[6]
Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency (BURA) Byron W. Brown
Darius Pridgen
Christopher P. Scanlon
Brendan Mehaffy
Timothy Ball
Donna Estrich
Joseph Golombek, Jr.
Dominick Bonifacio
Chairman
Council President
Councilmember
E.D. of the City's Strategic Planning
Corporation Counsel
Commissioner of Administration & Finance
North District Councilmember

Buffalo Water Authority Oluwole McFoy
William Sunderlin
Gerald E. Kelly
Michael Finn
Chairperson
Vice Chairperson
Board Member
Board Member
Citizen Services Oswaldo Mestre Director of Citizen Services
Office of City Clerk Gerald Chwalinski Department Head
Civil Service
Commission on Citizens' Rights and Community Relations Crystal J. Rodriguez
Kenneth Simmons
Sherrill W. Colston
John Calvin Davis
Dana Floriano
David Granville
Sheila Wallace
Gary Wilson
Zaw Win
Department Head
Interim Chairperson
Board Member
Board Member
Board Member
Board Member
Board Member
Board Member
Board Member
Community Services and Recreational Programming Otis Barker Deputy Commissioner
Emergency Management Services Garnell W. Whitfield, Jr. Commissioner
Buffalo Fire Department Garnell W. Whitfield, Jr. Commissioner
Human Resources Gladys Herndon-Hill Commissioner
Law Department Timothy A. Ball Corporation Counsel
Management Information Systems Kenneth M. Barnes Chief Information Officer
Office of Senior Services
Office of Strategic Planning Brendan R. Mehaffy Executive Director
Parking Department Kevin Helfer Commissioner
Permit and Inspection Services James Comerford, Jr. Commissioner
Public Works, Parks & Streets Steven Stepniak Commissioner
Real Estate Christie Nelson Director of Real Estate
Telecommunications, Utilities and Franchises T. Tarapacki

History[edit]

Buffalo has a rich, and infamous, history with presidential politics. Two presidents hail from Buffalo: Millard Fillmore (13th President) and Grover Cleveland (22nd and 24th President).

In 1910, the city had a Common Council and a Board of Alderman. The alderman were elected from 25 wards to form the Board of Alderman. The board had 23 committees. The Common Council consisted of 8 elected councilors. In addition to the mayor, the voters elected the following executive branch officials, corporate counsel, superintendent of education, overseer of poor, commissioner of public works, the comptroller, treasurer and the three assessor of the Board of Assessors. The comptroller and treasurer were both members of the Board of Finance. The mayor appointed the members of the boards of fire commissioners (of which the mayor is a member), police, school examiners, jubilee water commissioner, pluming and water commissioners and the board of trustees for the Grosvernor Library and the commissioners on the civil service and playground commissions. The mayor also appointed the health commissioner, superintendent of markets, examiner of street engines, inspector of steam boilers, harbor master and oil inspector. The board of health consisted of the mayor, health commissioner and commissioner of public works. Along with his two mayoral appointed directors, the mayor, superintendent of education and another official serves as directors of public library. The city had seven all ex offico boards on which the mayor served on all but the back tax commission, which consisted of the comptroller, counsel and an assessor. [7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Mayor's Office". city-buffalo.com. Retrieved 29 October 2015. 
  2. ^ "Legislative Branch - The Common Council". city-buffalo.com. Retrieved 29 October 2015. 
  3. ^ "City Comptroller - City of Buffalo". city-buffalo.com. Retrieved 29 October 2015. 
  4. ^ "Buffalo City Court, Erie County". nycourts.gov. Retrieved 29 October 2015. 
  5. ^ "City Departments". ci.buffalo.ny.us. Retrieved 29 October 2015. 
  6. ^ "Buffalo Sewer Authority". city-buffalo.com. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  7. ^ Woodruff, Clinton Rogers, ed. (1911). City Government by Commission. New York: D. Appleton. Retrieved October 31, 2016. 
Scholarly studies
  • Nevins, Allan. Grover Cleveland: A Study in Courage (1932) Pulitzer Prize-winning biography. ASIN B000PUX6KQ.
  • Graff, Henry F. Grover Cleveland (2002). ISBN 0-8050-6923-2, short biography by scholar
Primary sources
  • Nevins, Allan ed. Letters of Grover Cleveland, 1850–1908 (1933)