Declaring it was "time to turn the page for all the right reasons," Anthony M. Masiello said today he will not run for a fourth term as mayor of Buffalo.
A day after celebrating his 58th birthday, an emotional Masiello told The Buffalo News in his City Hall office that he has accomplished much in his 12 years in office but also recognizes that the realities of politics probably spell the end of his long career in public office.
"The people of this wonderful city need a new face, new energy and a new leader," he said. "My wife and children are at a stage of their lives where they warrant new attention, and I personally need a new challenge. It's time to move on."
The mayor acknowledged that his decision to retire after winning 23 elections was "gut-wrenching" and that it came only after weeks of soul-searching. But he said he began to lean toward not running about two weeks ago after coming to the conclusion that just about every chief executive faces a "shelf life."
"I thought I was going to run again; I love a challenge, I love competition, and I love the fight," he said. "But it really came down to my own instincts. Still, it was gut-wrenching."
He said he has made no decisions about supporting any of the several candidates lining up to replace him but left open the possibility that his more than $1 million campaign fund could play some role in the upcoming election. He said he believes a political career that began in the Common Council at age 24 has now ended but acknowledged he has no job waiting for him and no solid plans.
But he also said he is not about to completely retire.
"I'm excited about the prospect of new challenges and new opportunities," he said. "Nobody has loved this city or marketed this city better than I have, and I think I've got to be of value to someone," he said.
The mayor had kept his political plans under wraps far longer than most political insiders had expected. Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Leonard R. Lenihan said Masiello informed him about his political plans Thursday. Lenihan said it was clear that Masiello has been "conflicted" as to whether he should run again and when he should make his long-awaited announcement.
There are currently four declared candidates for mayor, with State Sen. Byron W. Brown, a Democrat, viewed as the front-runner. Earlier this week, regionalism advocate Kevin P. Gaughan, another Democrat, announced his candidacy. The other declared candidates are West Side activist Judith Einach and Louis P. Corrigan, secretary of the Erie County Independence Party.
Others who have expressed an interest in running for mayor include Republican Kevin J. Helfer, Common Council Majority Leader Marc A. Coppola and businessman Steven A. Calvaneso.