BUFFALO, N.Y. — With two empty seats, a move to fill perhaps the biggest pair of shoes on the Buffalo Common Council is underway.
Leah Holton-Pope announced her bid for the Ellicott District seat Sunday with its current occupant and council president Darius Pridgen beside her.
“Don't fill my shoes, but don't dog my shoes,” Pridgen said. “Respect my shoes because I wore them well, and I respect your shoes. If the Lord wants you there, wear your shoes well. You can't wear those boots. Wear your high heels.”
The former adviser to Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes vowed to continue the work of Pridgen to his own congregation at True Bethel Baptist Church and said she plans to focus on education, jobs and healthcare in the district.
“I want to be clear — I'm not running against anybody,” Holton-Pope said. “I'm running for Ellicott.”
The announcement makes her the fourth candidate in the now-crowded race in the Ellicott District alongside Pastor Michael Chapman, Matt Dearing, and Cedric Holloway, who announced his bid just over 24 hours ago outside Johnnie B. Wiley Stadium, named in his father’s honor.
“Our community needs someone who deserves and knows these neighborhoods, who understands the needs of the residents and will fight for us when it comes to funding and services,” Holloway said.
After 32 years as a Buffalo Police officer, Holloway — with a crowd of his supporters — contrasted his new opponent and said the current state of the district is due to years of neglect at the hands of its leadership.
“This community over the past past 50 years did not happen organically,” he said. “This was not a matter of natural disaster or catastrophe. It was the intended result of policies at the federal, state and local level.”
Holton-Pope also saying today she is joining the race to make a change in the council’s leadership, joining Zeneta Everhart and India Walton in the Masten District, Kathryn Franco in the University District and Eve Shippens in the North District in an attempt to become the first woman to serve on the council since Bonnie Russell in 2014.
“I'm not running because I'm a woman,” Holton-Pope said. “I am not running because I am Black. Although, I am unapologetically both. I am running because I want to continue to progress.”