Buffalo, NY – Mayor Byron W. Brown today delivered his 13th “State of the City” Address at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. The Mayor called on the community’s leaders in the business, education and non-profit sectors to respond to the challenges of 2019 with the same compassion and commitment that residents demonstrate in responding to our winter storms. The plan outlined in the Mayor’s address will expand opportunities and leverage new resources to tackle the challenges of achieving equity, justice and progress in a manner that leaves no resident behind.
Mayor Brown stated, “I am proud to report to you that the state of our City is strong. We’ve enjoyed great success and exceeded the expectations of many. But the hardest work is yet to come…I am here today to tell you that together we can make 2019 the year that we answered the call.”
Stepping Up to Strengthen Buffalo and Ensure Equitable Growth
Mayor Brown highlighted nearly two dozen individuals and organizations that are stepping up and working to promote growth in an equitable and progressive fashion. Those highlighted in the speech were:
Park into the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park through a $100 million gift, which is the largest philanthropic gift to the City in its history;
Mayor Brown spoke of the successful investment projects on Buffalo’s East Side, which are transforming areas like the Northland neighborhood in the Delavan-Grider community while also announcing a
$65 million investment by the State. The new State investments will help strengthen the economic, educational and cultural drivers on Buffalo’s East Side that help spur growth and create avenues for upward economic mobility.
Mayor Brown spoke about the changing nature of public safety with an emphasis on accountability, professionalism, respect for our residents, transparency, and the need to treat all people with dignity. Highlighted initiatives and accomplishments include:
Mayor Brown spoke about the need to enhance the City’s resiliency and environmental sustainability efforts as a way of protecting residents, the planet, and the billions of dollars of investment and growth
Buffalo has experienced. He also acknowledged that the negative effects of global climate change that are being experienced means that Buffalo has an even greater responsibility to the global community to protect our unique natural resources. Highlighted initiatives include:
In protecting public health, Mayor Brown identified the following initiatives:
Mayor Brown spoke about the challenge zombie properties pose for neighborhoods and the need to incentivize banks and mortgage lenders to work with homeowners facing foreclosure to prevent the property from becoming vacant and not maintained. The Mayor emphasized that when their homes are abandoned and the foreclosure process is not expeditiously completed then it contributes to de-stabilizing communities.
Mayor Brown spoke about the challenges and opportunities our digital age is bringing to cities across the nation and their residents. He emphasized the need to be forward thinking and digitally inclusive so that technology becomes a tool that helps eliminate social, educational and economic gaps. Highlighted initiatives include:
Mayor Brown spoke throughout the speech about how Buffalo is a City where all are welcome, and no one should be left behind. Over the past decade, Buffalo has become home to refugees from around the world. This has helped revitalize neighborhoods and drive an emerging economy in areas of the City. As the 2020 Census approaches, it is imperative that the City works with New Americans, and community organizations, to ensure that everyone who calls Buffalo home is counted in the census without fear.
Near the conclusion of Mayor Brown’s speech, he recognized three individuals for their exemplary service to the City of Buffalo and its residents. First, the Mayor recognized retiring Commissioner Martin Kennedy who served in City government for the last 30 years. Commissioner Kennedy was a veteran, dedicated public servant, father of five children and grandfather to thirteen.
Mayor Brown also recognized retiring Commissioner Steve Stepniak for his 32 years of public service. Commissioner Stepniak was a dedicated worker who believed in leading from the front during any storm or other emergency.
Mayor Brown awarded a Key to the City to Frank B. Mesiah, the former president of the Buffalo Chapter of the NAACP who passed away last year at the age of 89. The key was accepted on his behalf by his daughter, Francesca Mesiah. She said of her father, “He would recognize the accomplishments, but he always said, ‘we’ve come a long way but there’s an awful lot of work still to be done.’”
Mayor Brown concluded by calling on residents and leaders to work together, demonstrate our City’s resolve in the face of adversity and stand ready to seize the opportunities the coming year will bring.
Mayor Brown’s State of the City Address luncheon is a benefit for Mayor Brown’s Fund to Advance Buffalo, a not-for-profit organization founded in 2006 to improve the quality of life for children and families in the City of Buffalo.