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La pelea de los gallos: Ralph Hernandez and David Rivera

July 25, 2011

Pelea de los gallos

A political showdown is developing in the Buffalo Common Council race this year as West District School Board member Ralph Hernandez takes on veteran Niagara District Council Member David Rivera. The Buffalo News reported Friday that Council Member Rivera already is sifting through the petitions of Hernandez attempting to disqualify him by invalidating some of the 670 signatures he collected, while Rivera submitted twice as many signatures 1,200.

Interestingly, Peter Savage, an attorney working for  Mayor Byron W. Brown, who lost to Rivera in 2007 is assisting Hernandez. Rivera aligned himself in the past with one of the Mayor’s political rival former Assemblyman Sam Hoyt who resigned a few weeks ago to take a senior position in the Administration of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Rivera is listed on the Democratic, Working Families and  Independent Party lines while Hernandez is  listed under the Democratic Party in the Erie County Board of Elections designating petitions filed.

Rivera is a popular  incumbent not an easy one for Hernandez to overcome in the September 13th primaries that is  if he ever makes it after his petitions  looked over by the opposing camp what had him previously thrown off the ballot by the Maria Whyte faction  when he ran for the 6th Niagara seat in the Erie County Legislature last election.

But Hernandez is a veteran politician himself though a School Board member since 2004 and has just as good of a chance of winning as the incumbent Rivera. His message of helping small businesses and addressing crime issues though important, he has to articulate what are the problems of the Niagara District and how he plans to work with the community to address them beyond running on the law and order theme.

Councilmember Rivera has developed a good track record as a leader in the Niagara District and as the incumbent done many positive things in the area and he appears to be a well-liked politician in his district. School Board member Hernandez provided leadership to the Buffalo Board of Education during one of its most tenuous and tumultuous two-year period and many believe he steered the ship well. But over-coming a popular incumbent like Rivera will be a tough battle for him perhaps one of his most challenging.

If anything, the race divides the Puerto Rican community  between those who support West School Board District member Ralph Hernandez and those who support the incumbent Niagara District Councilman David Rivera. But the district is a diverse one and both candidates have to appeal to its diversity, providing a strong message of what it is they see as the most dire needs of the Niagara District and how they plan to address the issues.

In this, the incumbent Rivera has the upper hand having already shown what he has done, but there is still room for Hernandez to wiggle in if he  can articulate clearly what it is he plans to do. And having allies from the Mayor’s camp already gives Hernandez candidacy a political and financial boost. So money, supporters, and a strong message to the diverse constituents in the Niagara District is what will win this race.

The competitive race between these two Puerto Rican veteran politicians puts the Latino community in the political limelight something the community direly needs as its leaders are too often overlooked as viable candidates in electoral politics by the major political parties. Basta ya!

Niagara District Council Member David Rivera

Pelea de los gallos

West District School Board Member, Ralph Hernandez

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