“Four more years!” supporters chanted Monday evening in the atrium of Erie Community College’s City Campus in anticipation of Mayor Byron W. Brown and his declaration that he would run for a fourth term.
Red, white and blue balloons framed the stage. The sound system boomed upbeat songs ranging from “We Are Family” to “Born to Run.”
An invited crowd of hundreds of people that filed through heavy security waved “4 More Years” campaign signs.
When Brown took the stage, he summarized his accomplishments.
And, he promised to keep striving to make Buffalo a world-class city.
“Together we will continue to make Buffalo better for everyone,” Brown said. “We will leave no one out and no one will be left behind.”
The mayor, a Democrat, spoke as an officeholder poised to attempt to equal the longest serving mayor in the city’s history, Jimmy Griffin, who served from 1978 to 1994.
Brown’s predecessor, Anthony M. Masiello, served three terms.
Assembled on stage for Brown’s announcement was an A-list of local Democrats, including Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz, Assembly members Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Sean Ryan, State Sen. Tim Kennedy and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Speaker after speaker praised Brown for leading the transformation of the city, starting with Common Council President Darius G. Pridgen.
“Remember Main Street that you couldn’t drive down?” Pridgen asked. “Remember the hotels you could go in and didn’t have to have a reservation?”
“There was nothing down there. Now it’s Canalside,” Pridgen said.
Development problems in the Fruit Belt?
“Now we have the first permit parking in the history of the City of Buffalo,” Pridgen declared.
“There has never been a better time in the past 35 years than now,” said Howard Zemsky, Empire State Development president, CEO and commissioner.
“We’ve never had this kind of mojo and momentum ... We have the best team this area has ever has ever assembled and at the center of that team is the one person who has earned the confidence of all of us,” Zemsky said.
Hochul reinforced a major theme of the occasion: the mayor’s role in the team that has worked to bring about the city’s revival.
Introducing Brown, she noted that he reached out to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and they determined “this is where we can shape our destiny right here and right now. That’s what teamwork can do. It can deliver for places like Buffalo.”
She observed good-naturedly that the mayor’s first 11 years have had their ups and downs.
“Home values are up and taxes are down,” she said. “Jobs are up. Unemployment is down. ... In all, that’s a pretty good up and down record.”
“When you have a winning team, you don’t change the quarterback,” she added. “I want Byron Brown to keep quarterbacking for the City of Buffalo.”
Brown walked on stage with his wife, Michelle.
He said of the group of elected officials on stage: “We have accomplished so much because we have been able to work together so well.”
He also thanked those in the crowd for their support.
“It has sustained me,” he said, “and made me stronger each and every day.”
In a 10-minute address, he went on to list what he has accomplished since he was first elected in 2005 – lower taxes, a budget surplus, the revival of the waterfront, opening Main Street to traffic, providing 22,000 summer jobs for youth, clearing vacant houses, adopting the Green Code and the boom in building and economic development.
"Our growth is undeniable," he said.
City Comptroller Mark J.F. Schroeder has made his intention clear to run against Brown and will make his official announcement on March 5.