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Former union activist and socialist claims victory as new mayor of Buffalo

India Walton, a self-described socialist and union activist, defeated Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown in the Democratic primary this week, setting her up to most likely become mayor of New York’s second largest city.

Walton, 38, is a former public school nurse and representative of SEIU 1199. She campaigned with the support of the union-funded Working Families Party and the Democratic Socialists of America. Walton received fundraising and outreach support from other prominent progressive New York politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cynthia Nixon.

Walton also received the endorsement of the Buffalo Teachers Federation.

The Republican party did not put forward a candidate for mayor, and while there is a potential independent candidate, it is not clear if he has cleared the hurdles necessary to run, setting Walton up for a likely win in November.

Mayor Brown, who served four terms as mayor, has not ruled-out a write-in campaign.

Walton ran on a platform that included cutting the police department’s budget and removing police from responding to mental health calls, as well as declaring Buffalo a sanctuary city. She also said she plans to establish a public bank.

If Walton wins November’s general election, she will reportedly be the first socialist mayor elected to lead a major U.S. city since 1960.

Suzanne Bates

Suzanne Bates

Suzanne Bates is Senior Writer and Researcher with Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector workers offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Prior to joining Americans for Fair Treatment in 2020, Suzanne worked as a journalist for the Associated Press, as Policy Director with the Yankee Institute, as a contributor for The Hartford Courant, and as a regular commentator for WNPR’s The Wheelhouse.