BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — India Walton, the Democratic nominee for Buffalo mayor, has declined an invitation from News 4 to participate in a televised debate against incumbent Byron Brown, who is running as a write-in candidate after losing the primary election.
Walton’s campaign said Wednesday that she will participate in one and only one debate, hosted by the Buffalo Association of Black Journalists and WUFO on Sept. 9.
Brown did not debate Walton before the primary election, but did confirm participation for News 4’s planned debate on Oct. 5.
“(One debate) is more than the Mayor agreed to before the primary,” said Jesse Myerson, Walton’s director of communications. “If another party had nominated another candidate, she would be delighted to participate in multiple debates, but as she will be the only name on November’s ballot, it is more appropriate for her to focus on preparing to govern.”
Mayor Brown’s campaign released this statement in response to Walton declining to debate him on News 4.
“It took our opponent less than 50 days to break her own campaign promise to be open, transparent and forthright with Buffalo voters. Her campaign’s stunning admission that she is not prepared to govern our City only highlights the importance of having a debate,” said Sofia Quintanar, Communications Director for Brown for Buffalo.
“Our opponent’s refusal to join the Mayor on the debate stage is hypocritical and shows she was apparently not paying attention to the nearly 1,000 supporters that showed up to our campaign office opening last night. She indicated after the primary that she was ready to debate the Mayor when asked and has now gone back on her promise. The City of Buffalo knows this race is not over and our opponent should take note.”
The Buffalo mayoral race has received national attention after Walton’s stunning upset of Brown in the June primary, which saw a self-proclaimed democratic socialist defeat a four-term incumbent mayor. Brown has since launched a write-in campaign to remain in power.
Should Walton win in November, she will become the first female mayor in Buffalo’s history – and the first socialist mayor of a major American city since 1960. If Brown retains his seat, he will become the city’s first mayor to serve five terms.
Walton, 38, is a community activist who campaigned on the idea that it’s time for a change in the city’s leadership. She also served as the executive director of Fruit Belt Community Land Trust. Brown, 62, has been Buffalo’s mayor since 2006 and was previously a state senator and Common Council member. He served as Chair of the New York Democratic Party from 2016-19.
Walton will be the only candidate on the ballot on Nov. 2. Neither the Republican Party nor any other party is running a candidate.