BUFFALO, N.Y. — In the new year, they don't have to change the names on City of Buffalo signs or rearrange furniture in the mayor's office as Byron Brown starts year 17 in City Hall.
After that rather rip-roaring campaign against Democratic Party primary winner India Walton, Buffalo's write-in champ is back for another round.
With only his family and obviously the judge present, the toned-down, COVID-restricted swearing in ceremony for Mayor Byron Brown on Friday morning at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site may have matched his more toned-down approach to governing.
That is, after his gutsy write-in campaign against Democratic Socialist and progressive-backed candidate India Walton.
Mayor Brown promised more development for all neighborhoods, affordable housing, inclusion, and diversity. But just as many developers and conservative elements implored him to stay in the race, he was pressed while meeting with reporters on how he would address the oft-mentioned poverty issue for Buffalo residents.
In response, he mentioned there could be some government aid at levels. But the lifelong Democrat also quickly brought up his own parents' meager background and hard work ethic.
As he put it, "They helped get themselves out of poverty. They did not rely on the government to do it."
Considering his unusual mix of campaign backers for his unique campaign 2 On Your Side asked, "Are you leaning more towards the Republican Party and a conservative approach now, even though you are a declared Democrat?
Brown replied, "I've always been a centrist. I think in this election that we just came through, the majority of the people in this community, in this city, were saying that they wanted someone who was in the middle. They did not want a socialist, they did not want a far-left entity. But at the same time, we have seen the destruction from the far right, so I'm going to continue to focus on the middle and bringing people together to get things done."
We also asked Brown if he would consider incorporating any of Walton's ideas and themes of calling for more investment into public health, housing, and education. That is because a sizable number of her supporters did come out for the low-turnout primary and in the general election.
Should there be outreach to them as well?
Despite stressing diversity and inclusion in his post-oath of office speech, Brown responded to reporters this way.
"As I said in my speech, the people of Buffalo have spoken, and over 38,000 of them in a write-in campaign," he said. "The election is over, and we need a big tent of ideas and energy, but we are strongest when this community works together. Again, as I said before, the campaign showed that I did not agree with my opponent's platform, and the voters in large measure did not agree with my opponent's platform."
Also when asked why he did not seem to offer any bold or really new ideas for his fifth term, Mayor Brown said, "I think it's more than just stay the course. But what the public said in this election is that many people were happy with the course, are happy with the course, so we can't underestimate that. To get over 38,000 votes, to get people to do that in a write-in campaign, is extraordinary.
Finally, a reporter inquired about the possibility of considering even a sixth term for mayor, Brown, who is in his 60s, brought up the point that our recent presidents have been serving well into their 70s and that he feels "energized" for the next four years.