Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren delivers farewell address: ‘I have no regrets’

Local Politics

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Wednesday marks the final day in office for Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, and she commemorated the end of her term with a farewell address to city residents.

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.

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.

Mayor Warren, the 69th mayor in Rochester’s history, delivered the following to residents Wednesday:

“I stand here today and I want to say thank you.

Thank you for the opportunity you for me to serve as your mayor eight years ago.

When I took on this job in 2014, I made some promises. But in my first inaugural address, I broke from the tradition of soaring language and lofty ideas and made those promises directly to my daughter Taylor and the children of Rochester.

I knew every decision I was about to make as Mayor would be held against the test of a mother’s love for her child.

Parents want what’s best for their children, which is why, as I governed, I let my love for Taylor, and the children of Rochester, be my guide.

So as we close this chapter of Rochester’s story – our story, I’ll finish where I started: with a message to our children.

My dearest Taylor, you and the children who stood with me at my inauguration are now 11 years old. You were 3 then. Your world is still small and secure,  full of hope and promise. But you and your peers are entering a new phase in your lives – when decisions become more difficult; and outcomes more important.

You’re learning how to be young adults. And you’re doing it by watching.

You’re watching me. Watching other adults. Watching your friends. Watching social media.

Younger children are watching you; watching what you do. But more importantly, they are watching how you treat others.

Even as you are learning, you are setting an example for those who are coming behind you. So treat others like you want to be treated.

As an adult, you will learn that life isn’t always easy. Sometimes the things you hope for – no matter how hard you try – won’t always happen. And sometimes you’ll be faced with decisions that seem to have no right answer. Those are the moments when you have to remember to walk by Faith.

When I myself was faced with one of the most difficult decisions in my life, I chose you.

I have no regrets. I made that decision knowing that I fulfilled the promises I made eight years ago. And so many people helped me along the way. And our work speaks for itself.

We assembled a team that cared about this city deeply. Formed alliances and partnerships with people who believed Rochester’s best days were ahead. Tapped into Rochester’s greatest source of strength. Our people. All of our people.  Threw open the doors of City Hall and made everyone feel welcome.

We laughed with them; and cried with them. Shared in their hopes and dreams; and in their grief and pain. We listened to them. Even when we didn’t agree.

We showed the world what the people of Rochester are capable of. Created new opportunities across the city for all of our people. We celebrated our diversity and the richness of the many cultures and traditions that make up our neighborhoods.

We demonstrated beyond a doubt that the people of Rochester …

Regardless of their zip code;
Regardless of who they love;
Regardless of the color of their skin;
can succeed.

For the first time in a generation, we brought the world headquarters of a Fortune 500 Company to Downtown. And created an environment where people wanted to eat, work and play on our Main Street.

People from outside of our city have seen what we accomplished and they want to be part of it.

Invested more than $872 million dollars to build and renovate more than 4,000 affordable homes, making it possible for more than 9,000 people to escape the cycle of poverty and build generational wealth.

Returned our Police to the neighborhoods and introduced new measures to improve trust.

Created the Person in Crises Team, the Office of Neighborhood Safety and the Civilian Interview Panel.

Launched Rochester’s first era for everyone because we did more than talk about racial and structural disparities.

And in the middle of the Pandemic, we looked beyond recovery and charted a path to equity – not equality; but to equity. We created more jobs and yes, we Roc’d our Riverway.

We created better educational opportunities. We showed that you don’t have to ship children out of their neighborhoods or out of the city for them to get a quality education. I still believe that the best place for children to learn is where they live, where they play.

When we were confronted with the turmoil of a Pandemic, we fought on all fronts: medical, economic and social. We protected our circles and harnessed the awesome power of our Faith Community.

Yes, we did this and so much, more. We tried to capture as much as we could in a single book: “A Lovely Legacy: Belief Made Real.” 

I hope you will read this when you are my age, when you are an adult and you have children of your own.

Because I think history will show that this is when Rochester made its good better; and its better best. When its first woman Mayor decided to manage our city for growth instead of decline.

But I won’t ignore the challenges that we still have. I’ve never been naïve and neither should you.

This is a moment of historic change, not just for Rochester but across the country and the world. And you know, change brings uncertainty and fear. And the Pandemic has only made it worse.

When people are afraid, they become angry – and mean. They fight to hold on to what they have, instead of working together to create more.

They preach a gospel of fear, instead of one of acceptance. They look for anything they can use to divide, instead of to unite.

You and the children of our city are the beacons of hope that our community must embrace.

Taylor, you and I are beginning a new chapter of our life and I am so grateful. I am grateful that I can move on to this new chapter with no regrets; no un-kept promises.  I’m handing over the torch to a man who will become the first Mayor of Rochester from our LGBTQ community, and that makes me extremely proud. 

And he will hand it over to the next Mayor and an Administration that will have unprecedented amounts of cash to invest in our community because of our fiscal management. We have set the stage for continued success.

So I’ll leave you and the children of Rochester with the words of Edgar Guest that were shared with me by my father.

‘Success is failure turned inside out.
The silver tint of clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are.
It may be near when it seems afar.
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.

So don’t quit, my dear children of Rochester.  Life will not be easy and there will be challenges ahead. So hold firm to your faith, and always believe that better days are ahead.

And in your darkest moments, may God continue to bless you, and the great city of Rochester. 

Lovely Warren

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.

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 also resolved a set of criminal charges the mayor was 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.

The mayor also faced criticism for City Hall’s handling of Daniel Prude’s death, including calls for her resignation, accusations of a cover-up, widespread protests throughout the city, and more.

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.


Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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