Byron W. Brown this morning officially launched his campaign for a third term as Buffalo's mayor, pointing to several major economic development projects as proof that the city is working well and headed toward a more promising future.
“I am here today to formally declare my candidacy for re-election,” Brown told the crowd of about 400 gathered at the Rev. B.W. Smith Family Life Center on Michigan Avenue.
The mayor's supporters rose to their feet, shouting, “Threepeat!” and then, “Four more years!”
In a scripted speech lasting about 13 minutes, Brown painted the picture of a city on the road to recovery.
“We've improved city services. We've offered relief to city taxpayers,” he said. “We've restored hope, demolishing blighted buildings and restoring those that can be saved.”
Several elected officials joined the mayor today for his announcement. Among them: Rep. Brian Higgins, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, District Attorney Frank Sedita, and several members of the Common Council and School Board.
Higgins offered high praise for the mayor, citing development downtown and on the waterfront as proof of progress.
“We're working together to make this city what it once was, one of the greatest cities in America,” the congressman said.
Peoples-Stokes likewise underscored working partnerships among elected officials at various levels of government as key to Buffalo's successes.
“When Buffalo didn't work, the elected officials didn't work together,” she said. “Why are things working now? Personalities are set aside and people are working together.”
Brown's only mention of the city schools came by way of referencing his support for Say Yes to Education and its college scholarship program.
During a brief press conference after the campaign rally, reporters asked how Brown plans to respond to Republican Sergio R. Rodriguez's plans to make education a top issue in the campaign.
“Economic development and job creation are our No. 1 issues,” the mayor said. “The children in our city – their parents need to work.”
On the sidewalk outside the building where Brown announced his re-election campaign, more than 60 Buffalo firefighters picketed, calling for the mayor to settle their contract. The nearly 700 firefighters have been without a contract for nearly 12 years.
“Minimum wage has gone up 70 percent since we got our last deal,” one firefighter on the picket line announced over a megaphone. “Gas was $1.79 when we got our last contract.”
Brown told reporters city officials are currently at the negotiating table with the union. The city has offered the union “two good contracts,” in 2007 and in 2008, he said.