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Mayor hints at run for 4th term in State of City speech

Mayor Byron W. Brown's annual State of the City address, his 11th, had a lot in common with his 10th. It also resembled his ninth.

The mayor first recounted what he viewed as key accomplishments of the past year -- and then outlined his plans for the coming one.

But then, at the end of his speech Friday, the three-term mayor offered a bit of a tease that deviated from past addresses.

It's been an honor, Brown said, to serve Buffalo and its residents "for three terms and counting."

Mayor Brown's to-do list from his State of the City

Was that Brown's announcement that he's running for a fourth term?

"That last line, three and more. It's one more reason to believe he's running," said Niagara Councilman David A. Rivera, who attended the event.

No, Brown said later, that wasn't an announcement.

But, he said, there will be an announcement soon.

"People will know my intentions in the very near future," Brown said, adding: "I'm sure they can assume what my intentions are."

Many in the room certainly left thinking they did.

Health and wellness center planned for Jefferson Avenue

"He's definitely running," said state Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy, D-Buffalo.

"No doubt about it," said Rivera.

"I certainly hope so," chimed in North District Councilman Joseph Golombek Jr.

Golombek, Rivera and Kennedy all liked what they heard from Brown Friday -- whether it was a continued tax freeze or emphasis on neighborhood development.

And while they viewed his speech as confirmation that Brown's looking to run for a fourth term, they didn't necessarily view his State of the City address as an election-year agenda.

"It's more of the same,"  Rivera said. "Since he's been in office, he's held the line on taxes."

Golombek agreed that Brown's 2017 outlook includes several key projects for the East Side, which is Brown's political base.

But the mayor has focused on neighborhoods throughout the city, Golombek said.

"To a degree, he's taking care of his base, but he has taken care of my neighborhood too," Golombek said.

Last year, Golombek said, the Brown administration spent $21 million converting a former school building on Ontario Street into a 68-unit apartment complex.

Nonetheless, Brown's 2017 priorities include several high-profile East Side initiatives including residential and commercial projects on Jefferson Avenue, a further commitment to the Northland Corridor training and light manufacturing hub, an affordable housing project near the former Central Park Plaza and a housing rehabilitation program concentrated on the East Side.

Brown also denied his State of the City agenda is a political, election-year document.

"No," he said. "I don't see it as election year. I see it as continuation of a strategy and work we have been doing from the very beginning."

"We've laid out a plan as always to benefit the entire City of Buffalo, and keep economic growth and job creation moving forward in every single section of the city of Buffalo," Brown said.

Brown said his administration has been supporting East Side projects, including those on Jefferson Avenue, for years.

They are perhaps attracting more attention,  he said, because there is now a critical mass of development in the Jefferson Avenue area.

"Our focus with Northland, Jefferson, has been to build critical mass," he said. "We have been promoting the area to the development community."

Brown added that the housing renovation program will have almost city-wide impact.

The 60 houses being renovated were obtained by the city in a foreclosure sale. The properties were all owned by absentee landlords who didn't keep up with their taxes.

A large number of the houses are on the East Side, but there are also some in South Buffalo, the West Side and the Riverside/Black Rock area.

In fact, Delaware is the only Council district without any of these houses, Brown said.

Brown's address attracted more than 1,700 people, each of whom paid $50 to attend.

The money goes to pay for the lunch and the event itself. Any profit goes to a fund that finances programs for city youth, including the mayor's summer reading program.

The event has been growing in recent years, with an estimated 1,200 attending in 2015, and almost 1,700 in 2016, according to the mayor's office.


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