For some of the 2021 elections, particularly in the race for mayor of Buffalo, we may not know who the winner is until sometime well beyond Election Day. I am already however, on November 1, prepared to declare the winners in 80 of the 146 elections occurring in Erie County. In a few of the other elections I am holding back on my predictions for now.
My participation in and observation of political campaigns goes back to the late 1960’s when I was a college student. The 2021 local elections collectively are absolutely the strangest, craziest elections I have ever seen, and that impression is not limited to any particular campaign. It has been like a three ring circus.
There has even been some deja vu. One of the earliest campaigns I worked on was in 1969 when Democratic Mayor Frank Sedita was being challenged by a fiery conservative Republican Councilmember, Alfreda Slominski. So who did I hear on the radio last week, in October 2021, but Alfreda Slominski doing a commercial for Comptroller candidate Kevin Hardwick? (Mrs. Slominski was Comptroller from the 1975 through 1993).
The Democratic primary election for Mayor in Buffalo this year was the most highly contested one since 1977 when the endorsed party candidate, Leslie Foschio, lost to Assemblyman Arthur O. Eve. A third candidate in that race survived to run on the Conservative Party line. Jimmy Griffin won on that line and of course was re-elected three more times.
We may not know until later in November who was elected mayor unless either India Walton’s vote total or the number of write-in bubbles on the ballots is so overwhelming as to point to the likely winner. If the Walton versus write-in bubble count is close we will be waiting well into November to learn who was elected. Can’t recall any election when the “write-in bubble count” was a factor.
The TV commercials in the mayor’s race as well as those concerning the Republican and Democratic candidates for Erie County Sheriff were among the toughest ever seen here. TV stations and candidate media buyers must be quite happy with the volume of ads; not so the TV viewers. The thing is, in a race where public opinion forms as hard and quickly as it has in the campaign for mayor, TV loses most of its effectiveness as Election Day draws near.
The mayor’s race has been the most expensive in local history, likely totally more than $4 million when all the direct candidate expenditures and the outside-of-the-area PAC money are included. The sheriff’s race, including both the primary and general elections, is also likely the most expensive in history.
The twisted presentations of campaign mailers in several of the campaigns have set new lows for credibility and honesty. None of this speaks well for local politics going forward.
The Trumpification of local campaigns, where truth disappears and alternative facts are presented as real is a very bad development for all concerned. Maybe if the Trumpiest of the candidates go down to defeat things can regroup for elections to come.
In my introduction to this blog six and a half years ago (you can read it by clicking “About” at the top of this blog page) I discussed the need for and value of civility in politics. Despite the antics of Donald Trump and likeminded candidates locality and elsewhere I still believe that civility in politics is important. Candidates and the hired gun media folks in many cases relish the chaos they help to create but they are not doing this community or this country any good.
Here’s hoping the local versions of that sinister version of politics go down to defeat today. If that happens it might help move the political sanity meter a little closer to where it needs to be.
If you haven’t done so already, don’t forget to vote!
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