On Monday, the Eastside developer, housing activist, and co-founder of PUSH USA, Eddie Egriu (pronounced e-grew), announced his campaign to oust longtime politician Brian Higgins from Congress. The announcement was held on the city’s East Side, on a block containing seven abandoned homes and seven vacant lots, where Egriu scolded Higgins for “being owned by banksters, defense contractors, and big-money interests.”
“While our politicians and their contributors continue to feed at the public trough – one taxpayer funded development project after the next, legalized corruption amuck – our neighborhoods continue to lie in ruin,” he says. “Higgins first held public office in 1988, and he has nothing to show for it except hot air and a waterfront house of cards.”
Egriu is considerably to the left of Mr. Higgins, a centrist Democrat. Higgins sits on both the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Homeland Security Committee. Egriu calls himself “a liberal anti-war populist.”
Egriu said that Higgins is a member of “the Mitt Romney Wing of the Democratic Party,” and asks “why is Mitt Romney’s healthcare plan the best [Democrats] could do?” Egriu supports a universal single payer healthcare system, “so that we can finally end the perverse profit seeking industry that is leeching the life out of our healthcare system.”
He also favors the legalization of marijuana for use by adults. Higgins has long opposed doing so.
After delivering his prepared remarks, an Egriu supporter happened to mention, as an aside, that “Higgins is a flip flopper on issues like abortion and gay marriage.”
In his press release, Egriu also makes a point to note his opposition to the bank bailouts that Higgins voted for, and even titled his prepared remarks, which the campaign distributed beforehand, “Brian, the View Must Look Different From the Cigar Room of the Buffalo Club.”
His speech was aggressive and impassioned.
Sorry for the difficult audio; it was very windy. (I’m working on sourcing a better recording… it really was a compelling speech, especially if you share his politics).
You can read the full text of his announcement: Eddie Egriu – Prepared Remarks.
Egriu also received the endorsement of Darnell Jackson, the well known East Side anti-violence activist. Jackson and Egriu have worked together on many housing and community development issues. Jackson is an influential figure in the East Side’s political power structure.
Darnell Jackson, holding an Eddie Egriu for Cognress flier that reads: “Missing. Have you seen this Congressman helping your neighborhood? Last seen dining with Banksters at the Buffalo Club.”
David Rodriguez considers Egriu a mentor and spoke about him with enormous praise. Rodriguez said that Egriu is the kind of person who is always there to help a friend in a need, and always willing to stand up for the little guy. Rodriguez credits Egriu with giving him the opportunities that allowed him to build a better life for himself and his family.
They met over seven years ago when Rodriguez first began volunteering with PUSH Buffalo, the non-profit affordable housing and job training organization, where Egriu was working as a project manager and contractor. Rodriguez joined their training and apprenticeship program “off the street, without two cents to rub together.” Today he is a skilled tradesman who owns several properties and has built a good life for himself and his family.
Spencer Gaskin, who leads the Outsource Center, a six year old job training and placement program located at 1649 Fillmore Avenue, explained that he is supporting Egriu’s campaign because of his frustration with Higgins, whose office refuses to respond to their repeated requests to work together.