BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The start of the new year means a new Buffalo Common Council will be sworn in and a new common council president will be chosen.
The short list for council president includes current Majority Leader and Niagara District Councilman David Rivera and current President Pro Tempore and South District Councilman Chris Scanlon.
The race began when current Common Council President Darius Pridgen did not seek re-election this year.
There will be new faces on the council, replacing Pridgen and Masten District Councilman Ulysees Wingo. Leah Halton-Pope will take over Pridgen’s Ellicott District and Zeneta Everhart will represent Masten. They will have a say, along with the other incumbent members, in who the next president will be.
To be elected council president, the candidate will need at least five votes, which is a simple majority.
Councilman David Rivera spoke with News 4 on Friday via phone. He said this is different from any other election because it is chosen by his peers in the council.
“I think he has to work closely with all nine council members. You have to understand their districts, their needs and you have to represent them when you go downstairs to negotiate with the administration. You have to work. You have to have integrity. They have to trust you. I think I have those qualities,” Rivera said.
Rivera said one of his top priorities is settling the city’s finances. He said the city was operating in a deficit before the COVID-19 pandemic, but COVID relief money was able to help with expense. Now that money is running dry, so the city will have to find new revenue streams.
“We can’t operate in a deficit and I think that’s the key right now. Working with the administration, I think we’ve had a good relationship working with the administration and the Mayor’s office to try to do that. We’re trying to seek new revenues which is critical to the city’s finances,” Rivera added.
As for getting support from his colleagues, Rivera said he feels confident in his campaign and ready to work with the new council.
“Well as of last week, I felt pretty confident. I don’t want to get ahead of any of my colleagues, so I’ll leave it up to them. But I felt pretty confident we were there,” Rivera explained. “If it’s Chris [Scanlon], then I’ll support whoever the leader is.”
Common council president serves an important role in the line of succession in city hall. If the mayor steps down or is unable to fulfill his term, the common council president would become acting mayor.
Notably missing from the short list is Fillmore District Councilman Mitch Nowakowski, who withdrew his bid for the position after announcing he will run for state senate if current State Senator Tim Kennedy runs for Congress.
Kennedy has expressed his interest in running for Congressman Brian Higgins’ seat, who will take over as President and CEO of Shea’s Performing Arts Center in February.
Erie County Legislature Chairwoman April Baskin has also expressed interest in the 63rd District Senate Seat.
News 4 reached out to Councilman Scanlon for comment for this story, but has not heard back.
The council will also elect a new majority leader and president pro tempore. That vote will be held Jan. 2 after the new councilmembers are sworn in on Jan. 1.