Buffalo, NY

India Walton is Buffalo, New York's First Female Mayor

Synthia Stark

Photo of India Walton posted on her public Facebook page

Back on June 22, 2021, in Buffalo, New York, India Walton scored a pretty obvious victory over the four-term incumbent named Byron Brown in the Democratic primary for Buffalo mayor.

This makes her the first female and first socialist to lead the second-largest city in New York.

To top it all off, she is a prominent community organizer and a first-time candidate. She had defeated Byron, who had been an elected official for 25 years.

India Walton's Background

As a former head of a community land trust, a labor activist, a registered nurse, and a single mother of four, it's clear that she has a lot of unique and amazing experiences.

These experiences likely resonated with the average person.

India Walton first flirted with the idea of running for Common Council in 2019 but instead became the executive director of the Fruit Belt Community Land Trust, which tries to provide affordable housing and reduce gentrification, especially in the city's Fruit Belt neighborhood.

When she resigned in December of 2019, she first challenged Byron without having the backing of the local Democratic Party. The chairman of the county Democratic Party initially wrote her off.

India and her volunteers then assembled a coalition of activist groups that highlighted complex issues such as:

  • Income inequality
  • Police brutality
  • Inadequate low-income housing

This coalition became India's sole legacy, and the Working Families Party (WFP) helped in a major way.

The Voting Process

She was able to lead Byron by 1507 votes where all in-person voted counted into the equation, so this was a pretty big margin. She basically beat him by 7% of the mediocre turnout.

She paved the way for other aspiring figures to potentially enter the political arena. Plus, since Republicans failed to field a candidate, an even larger pathway allowed India Walton to become mayor.

Considering the situation, Buffalo will become America's largest city to have a socialist mayor. Previously, this title was held by Milwaukee in 1960.

According to India Walton:

Buffalonians demand community-minded, people-focused government, and we're ready to serve them. For too long, we've seen our city work for politicians, for developers, for the police union but not for ordinary working families."

As she went on to also say:

"In our city, everyone will have a seat at the table."

Historical Significance and Byron Brown

Currently, India Walton has the backing of the Democratic Socialists of America, the country's largest socialist organization, and as mentioned earlier, also has the backing of the Working Families Party.

Previously, Byron Brown was a state senator. He had been Buffalo's mayor since his first election in 2005 and continued winning for four terms until he was defeated by India Walton.

Byron, a native to Queens who came to Buffalo for college, was the city's first mayor of color. His form of governance was reportedly similar to what his predecessors did, which reportedly prioritized developers, bankers, and business people in general.

At one point, Byron did a stint as the chairman of the state Democratic Party before relinquishing the post in 2019.

Like his predecessors, most Buffalo mayors took the pathway of Buffalo’s Common Council, followed by the New York State Senate, and then the mayor's office. The fact that India Walton surpassed all that, is quite an amazing feat.

India Walton's victory is a very historic moment for Buffalo, New York. All 63 mayors since 1832, have all been men, so it's fascinating that even in the modern-day, that we're still seeing milestones like these.

On social media, the Democratic Socialists of America congratulated her indirectly:

The Victory Speech

When India Walton delivered her victory speech, she had said many things to say, such as:

"I am a coalition builder."

Her supporters had chanted variations of:

"Madam Mayor. Madam Mayor."

If you missed her victory speech at the time, you can watch it in the video below:

As for those in Buffalo, New York, here's to hoping that India Walton represents the peoples' interests, including your own. The people of Buffalo deserve to have their voices and concerns heard.

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