India Walton, Come South Young Woman!

Elections Politicians Politics

            Pearl River      Let’s be honest, the city of Buffalo is not a place that most Americans think about on a regular basis.  Sure, if they go to see Niagara Falls, Buffalo is the southern gateway.  And, yes, sometimes there are cheaper flights from the airport for Canadians or others venturing south.  When the NFL season comes around, the Buffalo Bills are a contender no one can forget about, so football fans keep their eyes open for Buffalo then.  Buffalo also gained a name for itself that will long be remembered, when Starbucks workers shocked the company and gave notice to the country that the hands that make the lattes might also shape the labor movement.  Still all the same, Buffalo is a medium-sized city of less than 300,000 that used to be a major industrial town, but is most often just an afterthought as the far distant second-largest town in New York.

Nonetheless, I pay attention to Buffalo.  ACORN had an office there.  I have friends and comrades there.  Things are happening there in community, labor, and political work at the grassroots level that are worth careful attention.  The Working Family Party, which we helped found, has long been active there, and that’s important as well.

All of which meant that when India Walton, seemingly coming out of nowhere in the 2021 mayoral election, beat Byron Brown, Buffalo’s mayor since 2006 in the city’s Democratic Party primary, she was someone to follow.  Add to that the fact that she was described as a community organizer, nurse, and democratic socialist in addition to being endorsed by the WFP, and I was rooting for her even from more than 1000 miles away.  Unfortunately, and somewhat amazingly against all odds, Brown came back and launched a write-in campaign and beat her, once again returning as mayor.  Unbelievable!

So, where is India Walton now?  She recently ran for a council seat in Buffalo in a Black-stronghold district.  She ran against another young woman whose son was shot, and luckily survived, in the racist massacre in the area in May 2022, who works on diversity issues as a state senator.  That would have been an even harder race to win.  She was of course endorsed by WFP again, but lost badly in what we have to call a whipping by a 2 to 1 margin with 1525 votes for Zeneta Everhart, the winner, and only 741 votes in her column.

I don’t know that India Walton has a political future in Buffalo now, but she’s too good to not be in politics.  She understands that “systematic racism, redlining, food deserts” and more are “not by happenstance.”  I think it’s time for India Walton to move to the South, where we need her.  Buffalo is dark blue and people are voting on the margins of whose better and best.  In the South, take Louisiana for example, we end up mostly voting for who is not as bad as the worst.  Walton has a knack of speaking truth to power with grace and effectiveness.  She would be a breath of fresh air down here.  It wouldn’t have to be New Orleans.  It could be Atlanta, Birmingham, or even Little Rock.  She’s only 41.  In five years or less, she could be a powerhouse on the ballot.  Plus, she would never have to worry about killing snowstorms again!

India Walton, go South young woman, where we need you!