India Walton on her past: ‘I am an open book’

India Walton-Byron Brown mayoral race

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – India Walton believes those who oppose her will “attempt to weaponize my experiences against me.” Those experiences include a 2014 arrest and a 2015 traffic stop that led to Walton being ticketed for aggravated unlicensed operation, documents obtained by News 4 show.

Although Walton, the Democratic nominee for Mayor of Buffalo, declined to sit down with News 4 to discuss these matters, she did comment on her past during a press conference Wednesday.

She said, “I am an open book.”

“Things that I’ve gone through is what helped to shape and make me into the leader that I am today. It’s nothing that I’m ashamed of and I think that it is shining a light on some of the experiences that a lot of people in Buffalo are having or have had.”

Walton shocked the Western New York political world by beating four-term incumbent Mayor Byron Brown in the Democratic primary. Days later, Brown launched a write-in campaign to keep his seat.

“There will be a campaign where people will be able to look at every element of my record,” Brown said at the time. “They will need to, because it hasn’t happened yet, look at every element of this person’s record.”

An arrest report from June 27, 2014 indicates Walton was taken into custody on an arrest warrant at the former Children’s Hospital site on Bryant Street. The charge listed is 2nd degree harassment, a violation. In a prepared statement issued to News 4, Walton explained the charge came as a result of a disagreement with fellow students.

“When I politely told them I’d like to speak with them personally and handle the situation like adults, one claimed that they were threatened by me and feared for their life, despite the fact that I am 4’11’’ and was going on disability for surgery,” Walton said.

Walton says she took an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, or ACD, which a law enforcement source confirmed. An ACD is a legal mechanism that allows charges to be dropped as long as a defendant stays out of trouble.

Just one year later, on June 10, 2015, Walton was involved in a traffic stop on Bailey Avenue near Walton Avenue. News 4 obtained 11 traffic tickets she was issued, which include one for 3rd degree aggravated unlicensed operation, a misdemeanor. Separate documents indicate Walton would end up paying a $60 fine in February 2016 in connection with the traffic stop.

Walton’s name also appears on a tax warrant from 2008, indicating that her ex-husband Vernon and/or India Walton owed $562.50 in back taxes from 2004, plus a penalty and interest.

“In the past, I prepared my taxes myself because I could not afford an accountant or tax service,” Walton said in the statement. “At age 22 I made an honest mistake filing my taxes that resulted in a penalty that I promptly paid off.

“Additionally, when I was receiving food stamps, I was overpaid and had my wages garnished to pay back the difference.”

Walton said many people in Buffalo and across the country struggle living paycheck to paycheck, and that it is expensive to be poor in the United States.

“We all have a past,” she said. “I think that’s what makes me appealing to a broad audience of people,” she said Wednesday.

Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more of his work here.

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