Tony Masiello: 35 Years of Service to Buffalo

Tony Masiello si è laureato al Canisius College. Dopo la laurea, ebbe l'opportunità di giocare a basket da professionista ma non riuscì. Dunque, insegnò in un istituto professionale e piano piano divenne attivo nel partito democratico. Nel 1971, vinse un’elezione che diede inizio alla sua carriera politica. Masiello fu eletto al senato statale per New York. Lui si è guadagnato il nome di “the people’s senator”. Lui fu anche il leader in molte commissioni. Nel 1993, vinse l'elezione per sindaco di Buffalo. Lui fu fondamentale nei finanziamenti governativi per la città, specialmente per la polizia, i vigili del fuoco, e le scuole pubbliche. Fu una persona molto importante e rispettata nella la città. 

In 1969, Tony Masiello earned his bachelor’s degree from Canisius College and was the third-round draft pick for the Indiana Pacers of the ABA in the 1969-70 season, but did not make the final roster. Masiello tried out for the new Buffalo Braves in 1970 to no avail even though many locals believed he should have made the new NBA club. “That really was the hardest hit I had up until I was 22-years-old. All of a sudden, I had to find a new vehicle to translate all those energies…all that drive, all that competitive spirit.”

Masiello taught business at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute and sold insurance for a year. He was always active in the Democratic Party up until this time even though he had no particular plans for politics.

In 1971, Democratic Party boss Joe Crangle asked Masiello to run for North District Councilman against an unbeatable incumbent. The incumbent dropped out and Masiello won in a close race against another candidate, becoming one of the city’s youngest elected officials. He was elected to an at-large seat on the council and served as democratic majority leader in 1974 and as chairman of the council finance committee.

The unrest of the Vietnam War dominated television and newspaper coverage. Masiello went for his required physical exam for the Vietnam draft but was declared ineligible because of a childhood injury that left him legally blind in his left eye. “When the war started, I think I was gung-ho on beating communism. I bought into that type of hype. But as the war gradually evolved, I started to learn more about why we were there, what was happening there. I read about the anti-war demonstrations. I saw them from a distance, but I wasn’t really the demonstrating type.”

Masiello shifted his political direction and broadened his base in New York state. He first ran for the state senate in 1980, although the Democratic Party did not endorse him. Masiello went on to win the primary and subsequently won the special election before earning the democratic endorsement for the state senate in 1982, 1984, 1986, and 1988. He served as state senator from 1981 -1993. Masiello’s senate district originally comprised Buffalo and other parts of Erie County. During his final year of his Senate service, his district encompassed part of Buffalo, as well as Grand Island, Tonawanda, and Niagara Falls.

As state senator, Masiello served as a “people’s senator.” Some of the highlights of his senate career include keeping Columbus Hospital open, fighting to save the Connecticut Street Armory and the Richardson Building in the Psychiatric Center, saving jobs, and helping his hometown of Buffalo to constantly receive grants and financial aid to help keep many local businesses operational. The largest investment of public money in Western New York was $241 million and Masiello was instrumental in lobbying Governor Cuomo’s office to secure this funding.

In the New York State Senate, Masiello ascended to minority whip and served as chair of the democratic conference. As a senator, Masiello served as the ranking minority member of various committees, including the childcare committee and the energy committee. He was re-elected to the office of state senator in 1990 and 1992.

On November 2, 1993, Masiello easily won the mayoral general election, in what seemed certain from the onset of the campaign, to become Buffalo’s first new mayor in 16 years, thus succeeding Mayor James D. Griffin. Masiello’s 36,092 votes were 68% of the total vote. Masiello ambitiously outlined his vision for the mayor’s office: “This is an awesome responsibility. It’s a big task. We are inheriting some problems, but they are not insurmountable. I get excited to think about putting Buffalo on the map and turning around the image of a smokestack, snow, and the chicken wing capital of the country to a progressive, exciting city with vibrant neighborhoods, an exciting waterfront, and a place where people want to live.”

Masiello promised to change the way city government worked saying: “One thing it will do is bring new and younger people to help run the government. There’s a staleness about city government. This city hasn’t moved into a new era. I don’t think (the administration) is aware of the value of new management techniques, principles, and computers. In many ways, we’re a Flintstones-era type of government.”

As mayor, Masiello doubled the amount of state aid to Buffalo and convinced the federal and state governments to fund the re-engineering of both the Buffalo Police and Fire departments. Working with Governors Cuomo and Pataki, Masiello secured state and local funding for projects like the HSBC Arena, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, and the Theatre District expansion. Masiello forged bonds with decision-makers at every level of government.

Targeted investments such as these, along with efforts to spur development on Buffalo’s Inner Harbor Waterfront, expanding downtown housing, and securing funding for the return of automobile traffic to Main Street are focal points of Buffalo’s award-winning Queen City Hub Plan. Important to note, Masiello played a key role directing over $1 billion of state investment into the renovation and transformation of Buffalo’s Public Schools.

Spanning almost four decades, Masiello honorably served Buffalo and Western New York (WNY) as its elected councilman, state senator, and mayor. His commitment and duty to community service made an indelible contribution on the Buffalo and WNY governmental landscape. A heartfelt sense of caring and unity for a greater Buffalo characterized his tenure like no other. Tony Masiello is a remarkable Buffalo legend.