Former Mayor of Rochester says ‘formalities’ are out the window in transition for next mayor

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Former Rochester Mayor Bill Johnson said the second the gavel struck in court Monday, Mayor Lovely Warren’s role ended. He said there is no time to waste in getting the transition for the next mayor started. Johnson said presumptive mayor Malik Evans should jump into the role immediately.

However, Johnson said what we saw in court shouldn’t outweigh the work Mayor Warren has done in the Flower City.

Johnson said that at this point, "formality" should be out the window. He said Mayor Warren, the soon-to-be interim mayor James Smith, and presumptive mayor-elect Malik Evans, need to sit down and figure out a smooth transition into the seat.

"They should welcome the opportunity to help him have the smoothest transition in the history of Rochester,” Johnson said.

Mayor Warren walked out of court Monday with a plea deal that was shocking for Johnson, but he said he wasn’t surprised.

"It’s a very stunning ending to a very promising political career," Johnson said. "I don’t know anyone in the city who wouldn’t be saddened by the downfall of this dedicated community servant.”

Johnson said he was a mentor for Warren on multiple instances back in 2013 when she was elected and throughout the years.

"What’s happening now is something she had to figure out on her own, it was her own career at stake and we all pray for peace for her,” Johnson said.

Malik Evans made his win through the primaries. Johnson says his transition needs to start now.

"I know he’s been very respectful, of the mayor’s time and didn’t want to infringe on her prerogatives but we now know that she’s leaving office earlier than expected," Johnson said. "I think there are a lot of people in the community who want to see and hear from him, what are you going to do, how are you going to be different?”

Going forward, former Mayor Johnson tells News10NBC’s Stephanie Duprey, he knows firsthand how big the chair is, and good work shouldn’t go unnoticed no matter what the circumstances are.

"Let me just say this Stephanie, I think it’s very important for people to acknowledge all of the wonderful and positive things that mayor warren has done for this city, none of that should be colored by what happened in court,” Johnson said.

Under the plea deal, Mayor Warren will plead guilty to an election law violation and get one misdemeanor charge. She also must resign no later than Dec. 1, 2021.