Barbra Kavanaugh, New York, 1995


Barbra Kavanaugh and her partner, Lynn Edelman, have been together more than 20 years and are raising two sons. They were the first gay couple in Erie County to gain a joint custody order for both of their children in 1993.

Barbra Kavanaugh

Born 1955

Buffalo Common Council

Buffalo, New York

Career Overview

Elected 1995



News article about Barbra Kavanaugh

Ex-Council member considers challenging Hoyt for Assembly


The Buffalo News May 16, 2008

Former Council Member-at-Large Barbra A. Kavanaugh said Thursday she is exploring a challenge to veteran Assemblyman Sam Hoyt in the September Democratic party primary.

The longtime political and community figure said she has not committed to the run but sounded very much like a candidate.

“I’m looking at it very seriously,” said Kavanaugh, confidential law clerk to State Supreme Court Justice John F. O’Donnell. “Right now I have a good job, but it does not allow me to use the skills and community ties I’ve developed over the past 25 years.

“This is what I do,” she added, “and I miss it.”

Kavanaugh could present Hoyt his toughest challenge since North Council Member Joseph Golombek Jr. narrowly lost a primary effort in 2004, and her potential candidacy already is spawning hard feelings between old friends. Hoyt described the challenge by a longtime ally as “shocking.”

“She’s got to look herself in the mirror,” he said late Thursday. “And I won’t believe my longtime friend is running against me until those petitions are circulated and filed.”

Kavanaugh said she feels badly about the hurt feelings and hopes the rift someday will heal.

“I just think there could be a better person in that slot with a different point of view and without so much baggage,” she said.

Hoyt blamed Mayor Byron W. Brown, who recently appointed Kavanaugh chairwoman of the city’s Arts Commission, for encouraging her candidacy. “The mayor has targeted the senior member of the Buffalo Assembly delegation who carries the city’s water effectively in Albany,” he said. “To be replaced by a freshman who has run anti-Albany and anti-Assembly campaigns before could be devastating for the city.”

Mayoral spokesman Peter K. Cutler called Kavanaugh “a progressive reformer in government who has achieved great things,” but denied the mayor is involved and emphasized Brown will be neutral.

“There’s no need for him to be in this, and he’s not going to be,” Cutler said. “It’s a question of an incumbent defending his record of 16 years in the State Legislature.”

Kavanaugh, 53, served on the Council from 1996 to 1999 before being appointed head of then-State Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer’s Buffalo office. In addition, she ran unsuccessfully for Buffalo comptroller in 2003 and campaigned for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor in 1998.

Hoyt predicted another more conservative candidate — possibly Golombek — will join the fray to split the vote between him and another “progressive” candidate.

“Without question, she’s being used,” Hoyt said. “It gives someone else a chance to get into the race.

“I am one of the most progressive leaders in the community, and this means someone else who does not share those values will be a strong contender,” he added. “It’s too obvious the mayor is behind this.”

Hoyt, 46, has served in the Assembly since 1992, when he took over the seat occupied by his late father, William B. Hoyt Jr.