In a spectacular upset, political newcomer India B. Walton defeated four-term incumbent in Buffalo’s Mayoral Democratic primary election on Tuesday. Buffalo is the second-largest city in New York, and this race marks a watershed moment for New York’s political scene. Buffalo has not elected a Republican mayor since 1965, so Ms. Walton’s primary victory will more than likely translate to a general election win in Buffalo.
Come November, Ms. Walton “would be the first female mayor in Buffalo’s history and the first socialist mayor of a major American city since 1960, when Frank P. Zeidler stepped down as Milwaukee’s mayor.”
The New York Times reported that, “Ms. Walton celebrated her victory in a jubilant call to her mother that was captured on video, yelling, ‘Mommy, I won. Mommy, I’m the mayor of Buffalo. Well, not until January, but, yeah.’”
In her victory speech, she stated, “‘This victory is ours. It is the first of many…If you are in an elected office right now, you are being put on notice: we are coming.’” Running on a platform of public health, neighborhood stabilization, and fiscal responsibility Ms. Walton hopes to use her “passion for caring for people” to create real change for the people of Buffalo.
Ms. Walton has experience both as a nurse and community organizer, and according to her website, ran for Mayor “because we deserve leadership that listens and responds to our needs.” Her win illustrates the power of progressivism for the left wing of the Democratic Party as “yet another longtime incumbent in the state fell to a progressive challenger, echoing the congressional wins of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman.”
In a phone interview with the Times Tuesday night, Ms. Walton reflected on her win—“‘I’m India from down the way, little poor Black girl who, statistically speaking, shouldn’t have amounted to much, yet here I am…This is proof that Black women and women belong everywhere in positions of power and positions of leadership, and I’m just super-excited.’”