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Richards again backs Warren, but won't 'tell people how to vote'

Rochester Business Journal
October 23, 2013

Mayor Thomas Richards, at a late-afternoon news conference Wednesday at City Hall, reiterated his support for City Council President Lovely Warren but declined to say what he would do if re-elected as a third-party candidate next month—an outcome he termed “highly unlikely.”

He insisted he had no prior knowledge of attempts by others to resurrect his campaign, while saying he would not try to tell anyone how to vote.

“It’s not as simple as we’d all like it to be,” he said.

Richards said he stands by his Sept. 17 announcement that he was halting his campaign and throwing his support to Warren, who defeated Richards in the Democratic primary by a margin of 57 percent to 41 percent.

“If I were elected and declined to serve, the second-highest vote-getter would not become mayor,” Richards said in a prepared statement distributed to the media. “In that situation, we would see an unelected mayor serving until a special election was held that following November.

“There are many different scenarios that could occur that would need to be addressed. It matters how and by whom those decisions will be made. We should not, and really cannot, resolve these issues now.”

Richards, on several occasions, said he was unlikely to beat Warren in the Nov. 5 general election on the Independence Party and Working Families Party lines. But he will not tell those who plan to vote for him not to do so, he said.

"You don’t tell people how to vote," he said. "That’s not how you do this. You don’t say vote like this. That’s some of the misunderstanding here. What you tell people is who you are, what you stand for and what you’re doing. And that’s what I did. I’m not telling somebody how to vote. I never did tell anybody how to vote."

Richards acknowledged that he had hoped to be re-elected. "I did want to be mayor. I ran for mayor. I ran twice for mayor. But life goes on, and circumstances are different. ... It's one thing to want it, it’s another thing to need it. I respect the position. I think it’s a position that you can do a lot of good in. And I wanted it twice, but I don’t need it. And if you get in the situation where you need it, then it owns you. Then you do things that, it seems to me, you’ll regret."

Asked about the efforts of others to persuade voters to support him on Nov. 5, Richards said: “That particular process, in my own mind, isn’t going to amount to much. But if it happens, it happens and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

“Should this unlikely event occur,” he said of a potential re-election, “we will address it then and I’m sure we’ll have plenty of input from plenty of people. I am conscious of my duty to provide stable leadership to the city throughout this process.”

Here is the complete text of the prepared statement released by the mayor:

Since losing the Democratic Primary last month, I shut down my campaign operation, disbanded its staff and transferred the campaign's funds to the Democratic Party. I stopped campaigning for personal and family reasons, including but not solely limited to the loss of my son Matthew.

It was my belief then that by not actively campaigning, my campaign would indeed be over and Lovely Warren would and should be elected. I have been true to my word that I would not campaign or take part in any campaign-related events. I have not and will not participate in this election process at any level. I have done all that I can do to support the result of the primary by removing myself from this election process.

I stand by the statement I made on Sept. 17, including my support for Lovely:

"I believe that my announcement today will, and should mean that Lovely Warren will be elected our next Mayor. I intend to work to make that occur successfully and I urge everyone to do so as well. After the election, my administration will work to assist in the transition. I believe that this is in the best interest of our city." -Thomas S. Richards, September 17, 2013

But it is undeniable that I will appear twice on the ballot for the Nov. 5 mayoral election. I was endorsed by the Independence Party and by the Working Families Party many months ago. In recent days, it has come to light that there has been activity to urge voters to vote for me on those two lines. I have had no contact nor offered any support to those activities.

Those independent efforts have raised the question about whether I would serve should I finish with more votes than the other candidates. This is an outcome that I see as highly unlikely. I have been asked to provide a yes or no answer to this question. Unfortunately, it is not that simple.

If I were elected and declined to serve, the second-highest vote getter would not become mayor. In that situation, we would see an unelected mayor serving until a special election was held the following November. There are many different scenarios that could occur that would need to be addressed. It matters how and by whom those decisions will be made. We should not, and really cannot, resolve these issues now. Should this unlikely event occur, we will address it then and I'm sure we'll have plenty of input from plenty of people. I am conscious of my duty to provide stable leadership to the city throughout this process.

(c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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