To date, no one has officially declared candidacy in this year's race for Mayor of Buffalo. But the city's comptroller, Mark Schroeder, has all but made formal that he'll be in the mix.
Schroeder is planning to make an official announcement on March 5. In the meantime, he explained during an interview in WBFO's studios that while he respects the incumbent, Byron Brown, he feels it is simply time to make a change.
Schroeder acknowledged Brown as one of the many partners who helped the Office of Comptroller achieve for the City of Buffalo its highest-ever bond rating by financial firm Fitch, AA-.
He also recognized that Brown, should he choose to seek another term, might tout the economic redevelopment that the city has enjoyed on his watch. But Schroeder says all the good news about economic redevelopment can distract people from the bigger story, that Buffalo remains one of the poorest cities in America.
"Buffalonians are very grateful for waterfront development, for downtown development," Schroeder said. "But yet they are muttering 'what about us and our neighborhoods?'"
Schroeder has visited many neighborhoods throughout the city and, during his interview with WBFO, spoke of his ability to work with various people. He also stated he brings a mix of private and public sector experience, working for 25 years in the former and then holding offices at the local and state levels, serving as an Erie County Legislator and Assemblyman, respectively. He pointed out that he was unafraid to resist party leadership while in Albany.
"I was ahead of the federal prosecutor by 15 years when I voted against Speaker Sheldon Silver twice," he said.
Among Schroeder's other accomplishments as the city's fiscal watchdog is the establishment of what is known as Open Book Buffalo, which readily provides information detailing some of how city tax dollars are spent. It identifies departmental expenses and revenues, salaries and vendors and is available on the comptroller's official website.
Although no candidates have formally entered the race for mayor, those expected to do so are invited to participate in a forum Wednesday evening, hosted by Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant and the We Are Women Warriors group, during which time forum leaders are expected to raise issues of concern for the upcoming election. That forum will be held beginning at 5:30 p.m. inside the Frank Merriweather Library, 1324 Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo.