Democrat India Walton, a self-described democratic socialist who scored an upset win in Buffalo, New York’s Democratic mayoral primary last week, has a past that includes an accusation of welfare fraud and failure to pay taxes, according to a published report.
Walton defeated incumbent Byron Brown. Because Buffalo is predominantly Democratic, winning the primary is usually tantamount to winning the election, although Brown has vowed to wage a write-in campaign.
Good morning, Buffalo! pic.twitter.com/zqnLkjs8w6
— India Walton (@Indiawaltonbflo) June 23, 2021
Walton said old news is just that.
“Everything that I’ve been through has prepared me to lead, it’s prepared me for these attacks on my character,” she said. “I own my identity.”
“Every challenge that I’ve faced has resulted in a remarkable increase in my capacity for compassion,” Walton said.
The claim for repayment said she “received income and/or wages that were not budgeted against the needs of the household which caused over payments of assistance to Defendant.” She was asked to replay $295 of what she received.
Walton, 39, said these things happen to everybody.
“In hindsight, I would have been more proactive about reporting my income in a more timely manner, but this is not something that is uncommon,” she said. “I think most people who have received any type of government assistance knows that there are overpayments, there are underpayments, and you know, it was paid back.”
WKBW said Walton did not make the repayment until 2006.
She blamed poverty.
“We call it the ‘poor tax,’ right?” Walton said. “Late fees and fines that occur because of things that you are really unable to do because of your financial situation.”
During the time she did not pay back her food stamp amount, Walton was also under fire for not paying her state income tax.
A 2004 state tax warrant sought to collect back taxes from Walton and her then-husband of $562, which ballooned to $749 once the penalty and interest were added in.
Not until 2009 was the state tax paid off in full.
Walton said she guessed the issue related to filing with her former husband.
“I honestly don’t have an answer, I just know that currently I don’t owe any taxes,” she said. “But again, this is what the working class people go through all the time.”
Walton also had a pair of traffic issues from 2014 and 2015, facing charges of driving with a suspended registration due to lapsed insurance and driving with a suspended license.
In an interview with WKBW, she said she “can slighty recall” the incident.
“That is a period of time in my life where I was in an abusive marriage,” Walton said. “I am a survivor of domestic violence. And if you’ve ever gone through a traumatic experience you know one thing leads to another, and when it rains it pours. It was a very difficult time, and I am proud that I was able to come out of it in one piece.”
Records show that when she was pulled over in 2015, she faced misdemeanors, including aggravated unlicensed operation, as well as six minor traffic infractions relating to the condition of the vehicle, according to WKBW.
“Are you taking me to jail for being suspended?” documents show Walton asked the officer who pulled her over.
Walton blamed the system for the incident.
“Ticketing is a revenue generator for the City of Buffalo,” she said. “At that time they were allowed to make pretextual stops and I actually feel like I may have been a part of a quota.”
In the end, Walton paid a fine for the charges.
Although none of the information was made public prior to the primary, Walton called herself an open book.
“I’m proud of that and I would encourage people who have questions about me to reach out and have a conversation before they cast judgment,” she said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.