Every Sunday, we'll publish a quick Q&A with someone from the local political world. Instead of touching on the latest in policy issues and proposed legislation, the intent is to catch a glimpse of the person behind the title. The interviews are done via email.
David A. Franczyk
Job title: Buffalo Common Council member, Fillmore district
Family: Married. My wife, Annemarie, is an educator and journalist.
Education: Bishop Turner High School; Buffalo State College, B.A. History; Niagara University, M.A. History and certificate of specialization in East European studies; Loeb Fellow, Harvard University Graduate School of Design.
Party affiliation: Democrat
Other employment: Lecturer, Buffalo State College.
Previous work experience: Lifeguard; filter operator; research historian, Buffalo Landmark and Preservation Board; resource information specialist, Ethnic Heritage Studies Program; editor, Polish-American Journal newspaper; senior lecturer, history, Niagara University; adjunct faculty, Hilbert College, Liberal Studies; mentor, Empire State College.
City salary: $52,000
What music have you been listening to lately?
Classical on Sirius. Alternative rock on Sirius. 80’s rock. Polka on 1300 AM.
What's your favorite restaurant?
I really loved the old Polonia Restaurant on Lombard Street, across from the Broadway Market. It closed many years ago, but I fondly remember the subtle food served there by Heidi and Walter Spyrka who described their cuisine as “Polish with a French touch.” No pretense, but real continental sophistication. I especially remember the sczaw (sorrel) and barczcz (red beet) soup and nalesniki (crepes). I love all the foods of the world, pretty much like Anthony Bourdain and even Andrew Zimmer of the Travel Channel. (Although I probably wouldn’t eat the fermented cheese riddled with live crawling worms he ate in a fancy restaurant in Managua.) We’re so lucky to have so many great restaurants in Buffalo, and I love all the cuisine they serve: Spanish, Asian, Italian, Soul, Middle Eastern, etc. etc. etc. I miss the Jamaican lady in the Broadway Market who used to prepare a jar of super hot habanero sauce for me at her restaurant.
What's one thing people don't know about you?
I like to go to flea markets, auctions and antique shows.
Who's your political hero?
I’ve long been intrigued by Huey Long, the “Kingfish” governor of Louisiana in the 1930’s. He always stuck up for the little guy over the monied interests. His slogan was: “Every Man a King, No One Wears a Crown.” (Although I have trepidation about Huey’s loose political ethics.) My real political hero is my father, Stan Franczyk, who passed away in 2006. Although he never held elective office, he was very engaged in government and politics, first volunteering to work for Harry Truman’s campaign for president in 1948. Stan’s most important message is that is that you have to be honest. His second message was to fight for your constituents. Good advice.
What have you learned from teaching that has helped your life as an elected official? And vice versa?
I have to do a lot of reading to prepare for my lectures, which has been very helpful to me in my job as Council member. In an American history class, for example, I lectured on the Federalist Papers, which gave me a clearer perspective on the workings of checks and balances in government. I’ve recently read a biography and lectured on the black intellectual activist, W.E.B. DuBois, co-founder of the Niagara Movement, so critical to black history in Buffalo and the nation. Lectures on Athenian democracy in western civilization classes, provided me historic perspective on the workings of our city government.
I’ve taught classes on Buffalo and Western New York history, giving me better knowledge about our city’s rich history. Some of the information in European history classes can be quite eye-opening, such as words attributed to Cardinal Richelieu, who allegedly said he could “read 10 words written by any man and find enough there to hang him.” Talk about power politics. I’ve also learned a great deal from my students, some of whom provide good information to the class about things I didn’t know about. Others express interest in helping Buffalo when the semester is over. Some have.
taggedCity of Buffalo | Common Council | David Franczyk