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Citing a family health matter, Rochester Mayor Tom Richards announced he is ending his campaign for re-election.
Richards made the announcement just one week after he lost the Democratic primary to challenger and city councilwoman Lovely Warren.
At City Hall Tuesday afternoon, the mayor said it is time to put politics aside to focus on a family member.
"The city has been good to me and its been good to my family. I've tried to use my skills and my experience to the benefit of all to keep us moving in the right direction. I'll leave to others to judge whether I've done a good job as mayor," said Mayor Richards, D-Rochester.
Richards says he spoke with Lovely Warren about his decision, and is urging city residents to back Warren in her campaign to be the next mayor of Rochester.
Warren released a statement following Richards announcement. She said:
"I want to send my deepest appreciation to Mayor Richards for his words of support. For the last three years, we have shared a passion for serving this city which we both love and are proud to call home.
While in the course of the primary election we may have differed about paths and priorities, we have never differed about our feelings of mutual respect. My husband Tim and I send our prayers to the Richards family."
Richards will continue to lead the city until the end of this year.
Richards' name will remain on the November ballot on the Working Families and Independence Party lines, even though he won't be actively campaigning.
Green Party candidate Alex White is also seeking the post in the Nov. 5 election. White also issued a statement:
"I want to thank Tom Richards for his years of service to the city of Rochester, and I look forward to returning to the issues as I continue my campaign for mayor."
Democratic party Chairman Joe Morelle released a statement saying:
"Tom Richards is one of the finest individuals I know and has been an outstanding mayor. He and his family are in my thoughts and prayers.
Our community owes him an enormous debt for his long record of public service. Today is a day to reflect on that service."
MAYOR RICHARDS' STATEMENT TO END CAMPAIGN FOR REELECTION:
I am announcing today that I am ending my campaign for reelection. This is exclusively a personal decision driven by personal circumstances. My family has been dealing for some time with a difficult health challenge for one of our members that has recently evolved to the point where continuing my campaign is no longer appropriate.
My wife Betty and I have unique obligations to the affected branch of our family and that is where we need to devote our attention. I have always tried to weigh my family responsibilities with my civic responsibilities and the desire to continue Rochester's transformation. I am not sure that I have always made the correct decision, but I believe that I am doing so this time.
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.
I will be mayor until the end of the year and I intend to use that time to continue to address our city's transformation.
My announcement today invites speculation about what might have happened before and after today. I am not interested in that speculation, but in moving on from here.
When I came to City Hall - at the request of Mayor Bob Duffy, the last thing I expected was to become Mayor. But I looked at the job in the same spirit that I answered Mayor Duffy's call to join his administration. And that was to help and serve the city that I love.
This is not a job that you finish. It will forever be a work in progress. It is no less so today, there are many important and vital decisions to be made now and in the coming years. Keeping our city solvent and growing in a time when many cities are failing -- is chief among them.
This city has been good to me. It has been good to my family. I tried to use my skills and experience to the benefit of all and to keep us moving in the right direction. I will let others decide what kind of job I did as Mayor. I am deeply grateful to the people who have worked on and contributed to my campaigns, my senior staff and all of the hard working City employees who have made whatever success we have had possible and to the citizens of this great city for giving me the opportunity to be their Mayor. I ask that following the general election, the city support and work hard to help our next Mayor. Our city's future depends on it. Thank you.