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Ellicott Vacancy: The Answer Is Not Don Allen

The candidacy of Don Allen for Ellicott District councilman, buoyed by Lovejoy Councilman’s statement of support last week, died of two wounds this weekend. First, the disclosure in the Buffalo News this weekend that his financial history is sketchy. None of the majority five on the Common Council want to replace the disgraced Brian Davis with someone who appears irresponsible with money.

The second blow was his dismal showing at Saturday’s Ellicott District committee vote, in which Democratic committee members gave a narrow victory to Pastor Darius Pridgen. So goodbye, Don Allen.

Pridgen is a long shot, too, despite his committee endorsement. The majority five are generally opposed to his candidacy, principally because he is considered too close to Mayor Byron Brown. The mayor insists he did not encourage Pridgen to enter the race, and Pridgen insists he will be a rubberstamp for nobody, but the Council majority doesn’t seem to buy that. And at least two of the majority five feel that Saturday’s vote was sufficiently close to give them political cover to chose one of the other candidates who fared well.

Firefighter Bryon McIntyre came in second on Saturday; one committee member could have swung the vote to him. He has the support of South District Councilman Mickey Kearns. The financial irregularities uncovered by the News on McIntyre were relatively minor. He could win when the Council votes to fill the seat, probable Wednesday or Thursday.

Attorney Bill Trezevant is on the periphery now—he didn’t get enough votes on Saturday to make him a serious contender, and his support on the Council is thinner than one might expect, given his resume. Plus he, too, was nailed in Saturday’s News article over past tax problems—perhaps unfairly, since those problems have been resolved.

IThe only candidate whose finances proved impeccable is Buffalo State economist Curtis Haynes, who finished third in the committee voting. Haynes was supported by Champ Eve and (unofficially) by Democratic Party HQ. Last week, a leading member of Grassroots—a Pridgen supporter—allowed that Haynes is an impressive candidate. If the Council majority rejects Pridgen, and if some of them are ambivalent about McIntyre, Haynes may emerge as a compromise candidate whom all five can accept, and in whom their opponents will find little to criticize.

Lovejoy Councilman Rich Fontana and Council President Dave Franczyk, who represents Fillmore, may feel some pressure to vote for Pridgen: Brown’s overwhelming primary victories in their districts last fall bodes ill for their re-elections. Grassroots candidates might kill them, especially if a scorned Pridgen joins in the attack. But Franczyk may not seek re-election in 2011, and Fontana may decide that Eve’s Unity Coalition can help him stave off a Grassroots- or Pridgen-backed challenger. Plus, two years is a long time—the political landscape may change dramatically between now and then.

I’m told that if he’s not selected, Pridgen will certainly run in the fall. McIntyre, too. Haynes? I doubt it.

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