End of an era: Wednesday marks Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren’s last day in office

Local Politics

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Lovely Warren’s tenure as Rochester mayor is coming to an end.

Warren’s resignation, part of a plea deal she agreed to last month, takes effect at 11:59 p.m. December 1, at which time Deputy Mayor James Smith will be sworn in as acting mayor. Although his term will last only a month, Smith says he’s prepared to take on the mayoral duties he’s facing.

“We are at a crossroads in our community,” Smith said. “There’s obviously a transition coming with a new mayor and we have sort of an added wrinkle now, but you know, I signed up for this when I signed up for all of it. I believe I have a duty and I intend to carry that out.”

Mayor-elect, and current City Councilman, Malik Evans, will be sworn in on January 1, 2022, after handedly defeating Warren in June’s Democratic primary. Evans was unopposed in November’s General Election.

Warren served as mayor since January 2014, and was re-elected in 2017.

Prior to being mayor, Warren served on Rochester City Council from 2007 through 2013, and was elected as Council President in 2010, becoming the youngest person to hold that position in the Council’s history.

Warren was the first woman to become Rochester mayor, and the city’s youngest mayor in modern times. She was born and raised in the city’s 19th Ward Neighborhood.

Some of the mayor’s accomplishments include instituting police worn body cameras for the Rochester Police Department, and shepherding downtown development, including oversight of the ROC the Riverway project. The mayor wrote in her resignation letter, in part:

Together, we’ve built safer more vibrant neighborhoods, more jobs and better educational opportunities for our citizens. We ROC(ed) the Riverway, protected our city throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, provided over 9,000 residents with new, affordable homes and our Downtown is finally coming back. We have truly transformed every corner of Rochester.

As clear evidence of our success, we recently announced that Constellation Brands—a Fortune 500 company—is moving to our Center City. At long last, we have people gathering and dining on Main Street with the addition of the Mercantile on Main at the revitalized Sibley Building. And “@ the 5” we introduced a new entertainment venue so all who visit there can show the world that they “Love The ROC” as much as we do.

In every corner of our city, not just Downtown, we have new life, new jobs and a renewed sense of community. We’ve delivered innovative solutions to rebuild our neighborhoods in partnership with our not-for-profit developers. We finally delivered on our promises by filling in the Inner Loop East, building the International Plaza at La Marketa, saving the Genesee Brewery, finishing the Marina at our Port and beginning the revitalization of Bulls Head and Inner Loop North.

Under the mayor’s administration, Rochester also formed a new 24/7 “Persons in Crisis” team to respond to mental health calls, the creation of the Office of Neighborhood Safety, and a Police Accountability Board.

While in office, she also faced criticism and calls for her resignation due to City Hall’s handling of Daniel Prude’s death and the events that followed, including a revolving door for the position of Rochester Police Chief with four acting police chiefs since last September in the city.

After Warren’s guilty plea in October, she posted on Facebook that she is “leaving the past behind and looking forward to a brighter future. With the resignation, Warren still doles have her license to practice law in New York state.

Warren and two assistants —Albert Jones Jr. and Rosiland Brooks-Harris— were accused of using a PAC to get around donation limits during her 2017 campaign. They each faced two charges; scheme to defraud in the first degree, and violation of election law — both of which are class E felonies.

Terms of the plea will also resolve another set of criminal charges the mayor is currently facing. Warren and her estranged husband, Timothy Granison, were each handed three different charges after a pistol and rifle were found in their home where their daughter was left alone in May.

Some on City Council like Willie Lightfoot applauded Mayor Warren for her leadership and gave her credit for getting new housing development to come into the city, and keeping long term promises like Rochester 2034 projects put into action.

“Her administration under her leadership put forward an amazing plan comprehensive to the 2034 plan. Which we know often times we hear it speak biblically that without no vision the people parish. So I think her administration under her leadership has given us a North Star on how to go forward,” Lightfoot said.

Mayor Warren’s handling of the investigation into the death of Daniel Prude, following a tug-of-war over Criminal Justice reform policies drew criticism from both sides of the aisle. Especially those at the Locust Club Rochester Police Union who are ready to see change in city leadership and hope for a more unpolitical approach to public safety.

“In the one area she took the wrong turn on was to focus too much on individual actions unfairly. I think she put too much blame on the men and women that were out in the streets doing a very difficult job,” said Mike Mazzeo, President of Locust Club Rochester Police Union.

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