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On April 11th, 2011, Tom Richards was sworn in as Rochester's 66th mayor. He assumed the seat in a special election to fill the remaining term of former mayor Bob Duffy who was elected Lieutenant Governor.
"I'm glad I got the opportunity to do it. I'm old enough and been around long enough to know you're not supposed to love every minute of everything and I didn't love every minute of this, but on balance, I think I was lucky to get the opportunity to do what I did and I'm glad I did it," said Mayor Richards, D-Rochester.
Richards was two years into his retirement from Rochester Gas and Electric when Duffy tapped him to be the city's attorney. Richards went on to spend eight years at City Hall helping Rochester get through some trying times.
"We've gone through the worst recession since the 30s. Our major employer went bankrupt, the two other major employers dramatically reduced their footprint here. We could have come up with an excuse here to moan and groan, we could have excused almost anything. But, that's not what we chose to do and what we needed to do, so I hope that I made some impact on that," Richards said.
Richards spearheaded the redevelopment project at Midtown Plaza. That's what many will remember him for, but he says there is not any particular thing he did while in office that will go down as his legacy.
"I hope they will see that the city was better for my having been here. Not complete or finished or without problems, I accept all of that and some of that maybe I could have done better at, but I hope people will see it in that light and that's enough for me."
Richards believes he's helped restore peoples confidence in the city, but he says there are still many things that need fixing. Richards points to the concentration of poverty and the number of people affected by it. He says the public school system is by no means fixed and a lot of work needs to be done to change the culture.
Those and other problems now become the job of incoming mayor Lovely Warren.
"Lovely's a different person than I am. She has different talents and different strengths and some of those talents and strengths are well-designed for the problems the city faces today and I'm sure she can use those strengths to help. But, some of this stuff is not going to be corrected in a day and we shouldn't expect her to correct it in a day and she shouldn't say she's going to correct it in a day. We need to give her a chance to do it."
The mayor says he's been reminiscing during holiday celebrations such as the lighting of the Christmas tree at City Hall. Richards final act as mayor will be presiding over New Year's Eve activities. After that, he says he's ready to return to private life.