India Walton Overcomes Great Odds And Stereotypes To Win Mayoral Primary In Buffalo, New York

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india walton
india walton

Source: Robert Kirkham / The Buffalo News

In a “stunning” victory, India Walton won the Democratic primary election against four-term incumbent Byron Brown in Buffalo, New York, on June 23.

Walton, the unlikely candidate to win, was considered the underdog because of a lack of experience in politics and her past experiences with life. Walton knows firsthand what it is to be a young single mom, who lived in a group home, did not complete high school and a survivor of domestic abuse.

“I’m India from down the way, little poor Black girl who, statistically speaking, shouldn’t have amounted to much, yet here I am,” Walton told the New York Times. “This is proof that Black women and women belong everywhere in positions of power and positions of leadership, and I’m just super-excited.”

Now as the presumptive mayor-elect, Walton is set to run Buffalo — the second-largest city in New York state — despite still having to win the general election in November. Although she’s never held a seat in office before, she’ll be the first self-described democratic socialist to run a major city since Milwaukee’s Frank Zeidler in 1960, according to The New York Times. Additionally, she’ll serve as the city’s first female mayor.

The Guardian highlighted that “In her lifetime, India Walton has been a 14-year-old working mother, a nurse, a union representative, and a socialist community organizer.”

Walton’s platform encompasses a wide variety of progressive and ambitious goals for both the short and long term. Her website states her “top priorities” are public health, neighbor stabilization, and fiscal responsibility.

More specifically, aspects of the change she wants to enact while in office include addressing the “root causes” of crime, “emphasizing harm reduction and restorative justice programs” opposed to favoring punitive measures, “creating permanently affordable housing” and making Buffalo a sanctuary city for immigrants.

Additionally, the democratic socialist aims to focus on uplifting “cooperatively-owned businesses, green jobs, and a democratic control of land” — while also “supporting community-based initiatives” to increase access to fresh and healthy food so that nutritious options are affordable and accessible to all.

“Barring an ambitious write-in campaign or an unforeseen circumstance turning the primary in Brown’s favor, Walton will be mayor next year,” the outlet shared. “Brown did not concede Tuesday [June 22], holding out hope for absentee ballots, but the Associated Press called the race Wednesday morning.”

In her victory speech, Walton, 38, noted, “This is the work of a well-meaning group of rebels and revolutionaries that had a bold vision for what we want the future of our city to look like. Sometimes I come up with whacky ideas. All the time I know that I can’t do anything alone. When I said on the campaign trail that I am most qualified because I am a coalition builder, we set out to not only change Buffalo but to change the way progressive politics are viewed in upstate New York.”

Thus far, Walton has a good chance of securing the Mayor’s seat in November. The Buffalo News reported, as of now, there are no other candidates running against the newcomer on the ballot.