Deputy Mayor James Smith talks next steps, 1-month stint as mayor

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — In two months, Rochester’s Deputy Mayor James Smith will become the 70th mayor of Rochester.

Smith is a first-generation American born in Greece. He went to SUNY Oswego and worked his way up in the Republican Party to become Deputy Monroe County Executive. He also ran the Water Authority and managed Seneca County.

In Smith’s first interview since Mayor Warren resigned, Smith said he learned about Mayor Lovely Warren’s resignation when he started seeing news reports from court on Monday — saying Warren was pleading guilty and resigning.

Brean asked Smith how he felt about that.

“Well obviously we’re at a crossroads in our community,” Smith said. “There’s obviously a transition coming with a new mayor and we have an added wrinkle now of a different transition.”

For Smith, that transition to mayor starts Dec. 1 — the day that Warren agreed to resign by as part of her plea deal.

“Listen I signed up for this and when I signed up for it I signed up for all of it,” Smith said. “I have a duty and I intend to carry that out.”

Malik Evans won the Democratic primary in June, and he is the presumptive next mayor of Rochester. His term starts on Jan. 1, 2022, making Smith mayor for 31 days.

Brean asked Smith what he will be able to do as mayor in one month.

“I mean obviously yes, the tenure of my mayoralty will be a short one and I don’t expect it’ll be one that you’ll see a lot of policy changes or anything like that but at the same time I think my task and my duty is to make sure the citizens are served,” Smith said.

Smith declined to say what he and Warren talked about since her resignation letter, but he said he respects the mayor, said she did a lot of good things and considers her family.