Election 2010: Hispanics and the local political Scene, 58th, 60th, 144th district races
The primary election is September 14th. And the Latino “Hoytistas” and “Brownistas” are hitting the pavement the former dotting the landscape in red t-shirts. Stanley Fernandez known to be the closest Latino to Mayor Brown seen last month with a clip board walking into the Golombek site on Hertel Avenue in North Buffalo.
While the likelihood of incumbents re-election was almost a sure thing in the past today the prestige of incumbency may be a double-edged sword for some while still helping others.
And a recent Siena telephone survey of 788 registered voters across the state of New York with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points found, 51% of the voters survey would not support an incumbent senator and “would support someone else.”
Although, Senator Antoine Thompson was one of eleven New York State Senators uncontested in 2008, today the political scenario has changed for him with plenty of contenders for his 60th Senate District seat which includes parts of Buffalo, Tonawanda and the City of Niagara Falls and Town of Grand Island.
Thompson succeeded Mayor Brown as Masten District Council Member, later winning the Senate seat Brown vacated when elected Mayor in January 2006. And his ascendancy is a product of the rife that had developed back in 2005 between Brown and Erie County Chairman Len Lenihan who snubbed Thompson and supported Marc Coppola instead. Many in the African-American community viewed the endorsement as racially skewed, souring relations between the two politicians still today.
It would be interesting to see how it all plays out in the real world of politics while already the “gangsta” political literature saturates constituents mailboxes as rival gangs duke it out in one of the most contentious races ever in local elections, particularly for the 144th Assembly District seat as Mayor Byron W. Brown once again supports North District Council Member Joseph Golombek Jr against Assembly Member Sam Hoyt the incumbent since 1992.
In the 60th Senate District the incumbent Antoine Thompson defeated Marc Coppola cousin of Alfred Coppola who is challenging him again. While the other hopefuls in this contentious races are Rory Allen, a local business, owner of Zoom Copy on Main Street allegedly connected to School Board Member at-large Christopher Jacobs, and Mark Grisanti, a local attorney unsuccessful in his last bid for 60th Senate race two years ago. Grisanti challenges the Democratic Primary winner in the November 2, general election under the GOP and Conservative Party lines.
Hoyt recruited the highly respected political consultant Chito Olivencia, along-time leader in the Puerto Rican community to help him with his campaign. Mr. Olivencia, a former Erie County Parks Department Supervisor, retired to the City of Hormigueros in Puerto Rico where he is a candidate for Mayor today. And the “Hoytistas” are running around in their bright red t-shirts Chito spotted wearing his red one knocking on doors of homes on Niagara St last week.
NOSOTROS the group he founded presided over by his nephew Wilmer Olivencia is a key source of political support for Hoyt among his Latino “Hoytistas.” Niagara District Council Member David Rivera aligned with this political group his own future threatened if Hoyt defeated with the Mayor likely to replace him with a candidate more politically amicable to his leadership. Hopefully, it will be a Latino since last time he pushed a white candidate a Peter Savage, an attorney for the City who lost to Rivera.
Hoyt is well-liked among the “Hoytistas” Latino faction that supports him though some question why twice he failed to support a Hispanic female candidate in 2009 for one of the three at-large School Board seats and for the North District School Board in 2010? Dr. Patricia E. Devis, a Hispanic candidate would have won the North District School Board race, but Lawrence Scott a spoiler woo votes away from Devis, helping her opponent Jason McCarthy to win the seat.
And Casimiro Rodriguez attempted to call Council Member Rivera to ask the “Hoytistas” to support the candidacy of Devis but they continued pushing Lawrence Scott who lost the race pulling votes away from Devis who almost won. It was a sad moment for Latinos and for Devis recently bruised from losing city-wide for an at-large School Board race.
But this is what happens when Latinos don’t have their own political base good candidates like Devis who would have been an excellent School Board Member for either the North District or for one of the at-large School Board seats overlooked even after she demonstrated she was a viable candidate having run successfully before.
The Latino supporters of Council Member Golombek , the “Brownistas “aligned with Mayor Brown appear to be less visible in the community than NOSOTROS while the WNY Friends and Civic Association founded in the 197o’s is less of a force today. Yet, Andres Garcia a leader of the group has been seen canvassing the lower West Side with Councilman Golombek, indicating the group is active. During the Masiello and Griffin Administration it was a key source of patronage positions for the Puerto Rican/Latino community.
The Hispanic Alliance a group organized in the last ten years recently endorsed candidates aligned with the “Hoytistas” faction in the Latino community, providing Hoyt more political leverage among Latinos. And it endorsed City Court Judge Betty Calvo-Torres for one of the State Supreme Court vacancies, indicating Calvo-Torres now has the unanimous support of the Latino community. Along with Catherine Nugent Panepinto the group also endorsed both women rated qualified by the Bar Association of Erie County.
Back in July State Senator Antoine Thompson (D-Buffalo) stealthy strolled behind a black curtain at a $5,000 -a-plate luncheon at the Chop House downtown that caused an uproar among some voters in the city.
The hoity toity affair organized shortly after the debacle in Albany when two Puerto Rican Democrats, Senator Pedro Espada from the Bronx and former Senator Hiram Monserrate of Queens, had momentarily helped the Republicans gain back their 40-year-old control of Albany.
The infamous coup d’état was an effort to empower the Puerto Rican community whose politicians voice seemed muffled as the three men in the room, one white (Sheldon Silver, Assembly Speaker) and two African-Americans (Governor David Paterson and Malcolm Smith, Senate President) composed the triumvirate that control Albany. As a result Senator Pedro Espada, Jr is Majority Leader of the Senate today while John L. Sampson, 19th district ascended to Democratic Conference Leader of the Senate.
Golombek almost unseated Hoyt in the last election and it depleted Hoyt’s campaign chest discouraging him from running for Mayor in Buffalo. Still, Hoyt appears to have a heftier campaign chest than Golombek that some believe gives him an advantage in the race. Some wonder if Brown does it to simply to deplete his coffers to discourage him from running for the Mayor of Buffalo or is it a serious attempt to unseat the incumbent Assemblyman?
Yet Hoyt won last election under a scandalous cloud still not salacious enough for voters to have booted him out. Hoyt appears to have more campaign funds to throw around paying $10 hourly rate for recruiters to go door to door for him. And Edwin Martinez, leader of the Hispanic Alliance sent an e-mail recruiting for canvassers in the Hispanic community for Hoyt Saturday, August 28th.
While Antoine Thompson has name recognition the white candidates, dividing up the white votes, giving him an advantage, a spoiler conveniently in to help him so rumored, allegedly involving School Board Member Christopher Jacobs. Yet Rory Allen views Al Coppola as the spoiler alleging in a recent Artvoice article he functioned in this way many times before.
For Latinos, the problem is the community is gerrymander into two senate districts, the 58th and the 60th diluting its political power base. And the problem should be addressed now with both Sen. William T. Stachowski challenged in the Democratic line by Thomas Casey, Timothy Kennedy, and Micheal Kuzma, as well as with Sen. Antoine Thompson.
Latinos should be placed into one Senatorial District preferably one that would allow a Latino candidate to aspire for a Senate seat as well. Similar dilution exist of its voting power in both the Ellicott and Niagara District.
And because of this division Latinos though they could have representation in the Erie County Legislature 6th District seat it’s not possible unless they politically coalesce to make it happen. While School Board President Ralph Hernandez made several attempts to capture it, winning 984 or 35% of the votes in 2007, the Hoytistas pushed him off the ballot in 2009. Still, it may be reconfigured differently after the census, diluting further the political power of Latinos.
Yet, the problem is not only germane to the Hoytistas as the Brownistas supported the candidacy of Peter Savage, an attorney in City Hall, Mayor Brown unsuccessfully supported for the Niagara District Common Council seat instead of David Rivera who succeeded with the help of the Hoytistas.
Yet in the Ellicott with three African-Americans competing for the Council seat, Dr. Curtis Haynes Jr., Rev. Darius G. Pridgen and fireman Bryon J. McIntyre the Latino vote a swing one becomes important, especially in the close race, the same true for the Senate and the Assembly District seats.
Still, the Latino community caught in between the battles of Mayor Brown, Assemblyman Hoyt and the Buffalo Common Council, on-going warring factions that continues to keep the only high level Latino appointment in the Brown administration David Rodriguez as an interim corporation counsel after the Council didn’t appoint him to the post last month.