Four more years.
An anthem to his admirers and an anathema to his detractors, that is the prospect Buffalonians face after Mayor Griffin announced Monday he is seeking an unprecedented fourth term.
Griffin's declaration makes him the fifth announced candidate for the Democratic nomination, although City Comptroller Robert E. Whelan was expected to pull out today. Most political observers believe such a crowded field heavily favors the mayor.
"I think he will be very tough to beat. The only way you can beat Jim Griffin is with unified opposition, and there is no unified opposition," said Eugene Fahey, a member at large of the Common Council.
While speculation continues that one or more of the challengers will drop out before the Sept. 12 primary, his opposition remains divided. Griffin, meanwhile, sounded the theme of teamwork Monday during his 30-minute announcement speech in the Richmond-Summer Senior Citizen's Center.
He praised both the city's residents and his staff, repeating the adage, "There is no 'I' in team."
One of his daughters sported a pin that read: "Team Buffalo: You, me and Jimmy."
Although he will turn 60 next month, Griffin said he is eager to continue as mayor.
"Our job's not done," he told a crowd of about 150 supporters, which included senior citizens who live at the adjacent Sedita Apartments and about 50 ranking officials in his administration and the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.
Griffin pointed to the city's economic comeback, saying investment has increased and unemployment declined during his 11 years in office.
"The bottom line is we want to have full employment in our city," Griffin said. "When you have a buck in your pocket, a lot of your social ills go away."
Griffin, flanked by his wife and their three children, cited what he said were his many accomplishments. The city's waterfront has been developed, and its downtown revitalized, he said. City finances have been put in the black while taxes have been kept down. New housing has been constructed in many neighborhoods across the city.
"We've accomplished quite a bit," he declared. "More will be done. . . . When we're finished, they'll know we've been here."
If re-elected, Griffin said he would work toward bringing a major league baseball team to Buffalo, renovating Memorial Auditorium and developing the Main and High streets area into one of the top medicals hubs in the world. The area includes Roswell Park Memorial Institute and Buffalo General Hospital, and Children's Hospital is a short distance away.
In addition to running in the Democratic primary, Griffin said he will seek the endorsements of the Republican, Conservative and Right to Life parties. Conservative Party County Chairman Joseph Kelly attended Monday's announcement.
The mayor's announcement was expected. He declared his intentions Friday to the Conservative Party and issued a statement that was reported Sunday by a free-circulation newspaper.
Griffin joins a field that includes Whelan, Assemblyman William B. Hoyt, the Democrats' endorsed candidate; former Chief City Court Judge Wilbur P. Trammell and State Sen. Anthony M. Masiello.
"I can't wait to challenge the mayor," Hoyt said. "I think it's clear that the City of Buffalo thinks 12 years is enough for Jimmy Griffin -- He's not FDR, you know," he said, in reference to the four-term president.
"I'm glad to see him in the fray," Trammell said. "With him in the Democratic primary, it probably makes it a lot easier for me to win the primary."
Griffin, for his part, predicted a long campaign. On that point, all the candidates could agree.