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Judge orders Board of Elections to allow Mayor Byron Brown on November ballot as independent candidate

U.S. District Court Judge John L. Sinatra handed down the order in a hearing Friday afternoon.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown scored a major victory Friday in his bid to get on the November ballot in his election battle against endorsed Democratic candidate India Walton.

The mayor, seeking a fifth term in office, is already mounting a write-in campaign in hopes of being re-elected after losing the Democratic primary to Walton in June. 

In a hearing Friday, U.S. District Court Judge John L. Sinatra Jr. ordered the Erie County Board of Elections (BOE) to place Mayor Brown on the November ballot as an independent candidate. 

"Being on the ballot significantly increases our chances of winning," said Mayor Brown. "We felt confident that we were going to win as a write-in candidate; but being on the ballot will significantly increase my chances of winning November 2nd."

Judge Sinatra did address concerns about his brother's previous support of Mayor Brown. He said there was no formal petition made to have him recuse himself and he consulted with other legal peers and superiors before deciding he would continue to proceed over the case.

Attorneys for the five Brown supporters who brought the case argued the early petition deadline infringed on the constitutional rights of voters.

The BOE ruled last week the mayor had turned in his nominating petitions too late in an attempt to secure the ballot line.

During an impromptu news conference Friday afternoon, India Walton called the ruling a "travesty and mockery of justice." She said her legal team is in the process of appealing the order to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, acknowledging there is only a short amount of time to do so as the deadline to print November ballots approaches. 

In her remarks, Walton referred to Judge Sinatra as a "far-right activist appointed by (President) Trump," and said the hearing should've never proceeded in the first place in light of the judge's developer brother Nick Sinatra's ties to Mayor Brown.

Walton called the move by Mayor Brown an effort to drain her grassroots campaign of its limited resources, and at one point referred to the mayor as a "true sore loser." 

2 On Your Side Steve Brown will have more on this breaking story on Channel 2 News at 4, 5, and 6 p.m.