Mayor James F. Brown today wished his successor luck and said he has instructed his department heads to do their best to make the transition smooth.
Brown, a Republican, lost his bid for a third four-year term to Conservative challenger Joseph R. Fusco Jr. 4,151 to 4,070 — an 81-vote margin.
Brown, in a statement issued through his campaign today, expressed his "deep appreciation to the community" and vowed his "continuing support to its residents and to the incoming administration."
He said: "I wish the incoming administration well. I said from Day One I was running for mayor because of my love of this community and its residents. I will continue, in whatever capacity, to try to continue to help to move this city forward. I have already met with department heads and directed them to assist Joe Fusco and his transition team to the best of their abilities. I have great respect for the office of mayor and the voters, and it is now time for this community come together again and move ahead."
The people of this community, said Brown, "have been supportive of me, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have served them for the past eight years. When I first ran for office, I pledged to change the culture of city government, to be responsive first and foremost to the taxpayers of the City of Rome, and to run this operation like a successful business. I am proud that we have been successful in all three areas. It hasn’t been easy. We made many tough decisions, but at the end of the day, we’ve not just made it through some very difficult times but positioned ourselves well for the future." Brown admitted that his decisions have sometimes "rubbed some people the wrong way," but said "no decision we’ve ever made was personal. Everything we did," he said, "was done to improve our organization, to streamline and become more efficient and to keep costs as low as possible for the people who pay the bills — the taxpayers."
"It is impossible to run a business — any business — and make everyone happy all of the time," Brown said.
"I am proud of the team we assembled from the senior staff, to the department heads to the rank and file of each and every department," Brown said. "In the end, we made many significant accomplishments that we can all be proud of, from economic and commercial development, increased tax rolls, tax stabilization, cleaning up blight and decay, and empowering community organizations. I am proud of these accomplishments but even more so because we accomplished these things together; it was a total team effort."
The past year was not an easy one for Brown. "My family has lost two incredible and dynamic women, and their loss is still difficult and painful." Brown’s mother, Sarah Brown, passed away on Oct. 27, less than two weeks before Election Day. "The losses were compounded not just by the demands of the office but also the added demands of running a campaign," he said.
"I am tremendously grateful to those people who supported me during the past year," Brown said. "Your thoughtfulness, compassion, dedication and support were profound and inspiring. To the dozens of volunteers who worked tirelessly on my campaign, I cannot thank you enough."
The mayor thanked two people in particular: Common Council President John J. Mazzaferro and "my wife and best friend, Debi."
He called Mazzaferro "as dedicated a public servant as there is anywhere in this nation, and it has been an honor to work closely with him. He is a true champion for the community and we are all fortunate for his vision, leadership and service."
He added: "Anyone who knows me knows that I can’t leave a task — any task — unfinished. Often, this meant days that began in the office before 8 a.m. and ended well after 9 or 10 p.m. It meant working weekends and holidays, and fielding calls at all hours of the day and night. And it takes a special person to deal with that. My wife, Debi, has not only genuinely supported my efforts and been there for me, she has been there with me. Many times she could have thrown up her hands and said ‘enough.’ But she was always there and always said ‘How can I help? What can I do? What do you need?’ I am forever grateful for her love and support."