LOCKPORT – After more than 13 months in office, Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey, announced Tuesday that she will run for a full four-year term in this fall’s election.
McCaffrey, a Republican, was Common Council president and succeeded automatically to the mayor’s position, and a grave fiscal crisis, when Michael W. Tucker stepped down Feb. 21, 2014. But she acknowledged that she might have run for mayor this year even if Tucker hadn’t resigned.
“Prior to that, it was something I thought about, but I hadn’t decided. It came a little sooner than I expected or intended,” she said.
McCaffrey said she isn’t worried that the election might turn out to be a referendum on all the financial controversies. “What I’ve heard overwhelmingly is that people agree with the steps I’ve taken to stabilize that,” she said.
Her announcement reminded residents that when she took office, she cut up the city’s credit cards and auctioned off Tucker’s city car, pushed through a new code of ethics to end Lockport’s tradition of nepotism and, as directed by the state, appointed an audit committee of local business leaders to make sure the city’s record-keeping is in order.
“What’s important to me and the residents is the economic development we’ve had in the city,” McCaffrey said. Trek Inc. moved from Medina to Lockport, bringing more than 100 high-tech jobs; the partially restored 19th century Erie Canal locks, the Flight of Five, will be open this summer as a new tourist attraction; and Cornerstone Arena, a twin-rink hockey complex, replaced an abandoned supermarket and has already proven a big success..
The announcement of a downtown hotel project may be coming soon, outgoing Planning and Development Director R. Charles Bell said
McCaffrey said, “As soon as the 2013 budget adoption process was wrapped up, I recommended to my peers that we needed a higher-level budget review, and we brought in Lumsden & McCormick.”
To quell the torrent of red ink, the city obtained emergency bonding authorization from the State Legislature and borrowed more than $4.7 million to cover past deficits, on the condition that its budgets for the next nine years must be pre-approved by the Comptroller’s Office.
The 2015 budget raised property taxes nearly 10 percent and also increased water and sewer bills.