Buffalo, N.Y. - Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown starts his campaign for a third term on Saturday in a city filled with both promise, and problems.
A developing waterfront, offset by a school system that barely graduates half of its students.
A booming medical campus that's set in one of the poorest cities in the country.
We spoke with three important stakeholders in the city's future on Friday and each said that just a few years ago, they had serious problems with the mayor's performance.
Murray Holman heads the Stop the Violence Coalition.
Scott Brown: "What kind of grade would you have given the mayor a few years ago?"
Murray Holman: "He would have been like at a 'D.'"
Rocco Termini is a major developer in Buffalo. Termini saved and reclaimed the old Lafayette Hotel.
"The first couple of years, I'd give him a 'C.'"
And Sam Radford leads the District Parent Coordinating Council.
But all three men feel Brown has improved over the past few years.
On crime, Brown installed surveillance cameras, the police department is now working closely with the Drug Enforcement Agency and FBI, and the police have targeted high crime areas with sweeps.
Murray Holman: "Crime has been down, we don't have gangs on our street corners like we used to, our homicides are down in the city of Buffalo, the mayor has stepped up finally to do some positive things in the community."
When it comes to development, Brown shook up his department of inspections and licenses which Termini says made a huge difference for developers in terms of cutting through red tape.
Rocco Termini: "He's recognized that there were mistakes done in the beginning and he's done a 100% turnaround. He's really become a partner for development of downtown and that's something that hasn't happened."
On education, although the mayor does not have control of the school system -- unlike some other urban mayors who are deeply involved in trying to change their schools -- Brown for his first five or six years in office kept his distance from a dysfunctional and failing school system.
But recently, Brown has gotten more involved - meeting with parent groups and hiring a new Deputy Mayor, Ellen Grant Bishop who is his liaison to the school system.
Sam Radford: "The minute we asked him, he got involved and he got involved in a meaningful way. He got us to the table and since he got us at the table, we've been at the table."
Despite the changes, dilapidated buildings and empty lots still pocket the city, and gangs, drugs and young people without jobs continue to plague parts of the Buffalo.
When it comes to his appointees, Brown was forced to fire his Human Resources Director, Karla Thomas after it was revealed the city was paying benefits to dead people, Brown's head of Economic Development, Tim Wannamaker, pled guilty to stealing city funds, and Brown also had to deal with the One Sunset restaurant scandal, where the city lost $160,000.
In terms of his position as he starts his campaign for a third term, the mayor has more than one million dollars in the bank to get his message of development, cutting taxes and a lower crime rate out, a key and strong base of support in the black community, and at least for right now, no Democratic primary opponent in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than seven-to-one.