She would be the city's first female mayor, and also its first democratic socialist. She became a mother at the age of 14 and worked as a nurse throughout her life.
Mayor Byron Brown decided to stay in the race, despite the fact that he had to leave his 16-year-old City Hall office. He is trying to be the first to win a major race in New York as a write in candidate. If he wins a fifth term, Byron Brown will be Buffalo's longest-serving mayor.
Timothy Kneeland, a Nazareth College political analyst, said that the race would be historic in any way. It is yet another battleground between the left and center of the Democratic Party.
Brown is now gaining traction after he reversed his strategy of largely disregarding Walton and started to call her "an unqualified socialist radical" who will defund police and raise taxes.
The mayor implores voters to "write down Byron Brown" and says he is now eligible for another term. He has turned around a Rust Belt town of 280,000 that was in financial trouble to one where property values are increasing.
Recent polls indicate that Brown is preferred by potential voters, but Brown's name isn’t on the ballot. It is not clear if this support will translate into write in votes.
Governor Kathy Hochul, a Buffalo native has chosen not to choose sides, while Kirsten Gillibrand and Majority Leader Charles Schumer, both Democratic U.S. Senators, support Walton.
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez stated that "any Democrat right now, trying to establish a precedent by not uniting behind party's nominee for the party is playing a dangerous card," during a recent visit to Buffalo to rally in support of Walton.
Walton, who was the leader of a small housing trust prior to her campaign, promised a new, more progressive approach to business. She said that Buffalo's return has left many behind.
"This is our city. We are the workers. We do the work. At the rally, she spoke out with Ocasio Cortez. "We are tired of those who have the most always getting all," she said. Cynthia Nixon, the actress who unsuccessfully challenged former Governor, was also present at the packed event. Andrew Cuomo won a 2018 primary with support from the Democratic Socialists, who have also endorsed Walton.
Kneeland stated that Walton is using an increasingly familiar strategy. "A progressive in a period of great upheaval understanding that people want to change, and then drawing from that energy to knock down a moderate Democratic candidate."
Brown had to navigate the support of Republicans who wanted to stop Brown from becoming a democratic socialist candidate. After he had urged the mayor to remain in the race, Carl Paladino, a Buffalo developer and ex-Roma Republican gubernatorial hopeful, declined Brown's support.
In mailings, the Republican State Committee promoted Brown. They praised his "effective, commonsense leadership" while warning that Indian Walton's radical agenda would destroy Buffalo.
General elections in the city are usually very predictable, with 68% of registered voters being Democrats and 9% Republicans. Brown claims that this election has energized him, and unites voters across parties.
Brown stated in an interview that "This election is a choice," stating that it was a choice between proven experience, proven results, and ideas for the future or an unqualified radical socialist whose story has been proved to be false. He claims Walton exaggerated Walton's achievements as the founder of Fruit Belt Community Land Trust.
Frederic Daniel, the owner of Freddy J's barbecue restaurant in Buffalo, was attempting to fold cheese into a pot of macaroni.
He said that he didn't want anyone to "divide a country, the state, or the city," but declined to give his opinion. "Everyone must feel that they are not behind. People who feel left behind become bitter.
Walton, 39, believes that this is exactly what has happened because Buffalo's economic success has not reached many poor families or neighborhoods. Her personal experiences as a single Black mother, nurse and poor Black mother who set up the land trust to provide affordable housing have made her a strong advocate for supporters.
My life is not much different from the lives of people who grew up in Buffalo's east side. I have survived abuse, poverty, and trauma. During a debate, she stated that this is why she's running for mayor.
Walton used legal issues in her past to show the poverty of the working class and the poor. After failing to declare income correctly, Walton was ordered to repay $295 in food stamp overpayments. WKBW reported that her husband and she were both cited in a $749 lien tax for unpaid income taxes the following year.
She was accused of harassing a colleague at the hospital in 2014 and was later released. Walton claimed it was a verbal dispute and that she has since matured.
Walton, who was distraught when her car was impounded by the police, took to Twitter to highlight the challenges of being a single low-income mother enrolled in Medicaid and criticize such fees and fines as "predatory" in a place where 30% of residents are living in poverty.
This message resonates with many.
"It's really sad that the Black homeownership rates in Buffalo are so low," ex-state senator Antoine Thompson said. Thompson is a former real estate agent and has worked on Brown campaigns. However, she is now supporting Walton due to her focus on affordable housing.
Despite her lack of experience, some voters have found it a problem. She has never held public office. Darnell Cummings (34-year-old career counselor) voted for Brown because of this.
He said, "Let's suppose you're at the hospital." "Do you want someone with 15, 16 years of experience doing surgery on you, or someone who has never been to medical school?"
Brown has already achieved many firsts in a 25-year political career. Brown is Buffalo's first Black mayor. He was the first Black candidate for a New York State Senate seat to be won outside of New York City, and the first to win in an area with a majority white population.
After hitting Walton with her plans to reduce $7.5 million from the police budget, Brown found support from law enforcement and construction unions. She said that this was a holistic approach to addressing the root causes of crime. Brown speaks out against Walton's plans to cut $7.5 million from the police budget as part of a debate titled "clearly funding police."
He used television ads to identify himself as one of the 100 officers he claimed would lose their jobs if Walton won.
Walton denied that she would layoff any officers. She stated that she would reduce the budget for police through retirements, attrition, and reductions in overtime.
She said, "We stop police being dog catchers and homelessness outreach officers, and we place professionals in those roles."