On this site, we try and stear clear of politics. But, we also celebrate all things Buffalo – and we couldn’t do that without including a Spotlight Interview with one of the people responsible for the Queen City’s Comeback. Mayor Byron Brown has always been accessible, willing to answer any questions – but, he does an awful lot behind the scenes, too. When I called him a few months back to help with a Make-A-Wish event, he didn’t hesitate for one second. There’s no doubt, Buffalo’s resurgence has taken place on Mayor Brown’s watch over the past eleven years. He also happens to be a very nice guy.
He is Buffalo’s 62nd mayor and first African American mayor. Mayor Brown recently announced he will be running for a fourth term. We caught up with him and asked what’s up…
Q: How are things at City Hall?
A: Things are going very well. We are working on many significant and effective initiatives all the time. Recently, the Office of New Americans, in collaboration with the City of Buffalo Law Department, organized an Adopt-a-Classroom Winter Clothing Drive at Lafayette High School. The Police Athletic League took youth from City Recreation Centers to Canisius College for a sports clinic and to watch a game. I recently donated ice skates to the Olmsted Parks Conservancy for free skating at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park.
Q: I started this site because I am proud of Buffalo, proud to live in this area, raise my kids here. I’m sure you hear that from many people these days. How does that make you feel?
A: It makes me very proud to hear so many good things about Buffalo. Every day, my Administration works toward making the City of Buffalo a great place to live, work, invest and raise a family. I’ve been in Buffalo since I was 17 years old, and the moment I arrived at SUNY Buffalo State, I knew this city was my new home. As Mayor, I’m proud to see the strategic plan we put in place eleven years ago continue to further grow Buffalo into a City of opportunity where all city residents benefit from this remarkable revitalization.
Q: I’ve talked to you about this before and you never really want to take much credit. Why is that?
A: I don’t focus on taking credit for the impressive growth and progress in Buffalo. I’m really proud of the many strong collaborations that are in place – and together – we share in the recognition and pride of the New Buffalo. I work hard every day to partner with others and encourage people to work together to make Buffalo a better place to live, work, raise a family and invest.
Q: SO much has happened on your watch. What are you most proud of?
A: During my time as Mayor, there has been record progress and investment in the city. In fact, since 2012, there has been over $6 billion in development in Buffalo. I’m really proud that our city is attracting millennials. Millennials are staying in Buffalo, and a lot are moving back, too. Buffalo has become a really cool city, and a lot of people of all ages want to be a part of that.
Q: What would you change in the city, if you could change one thing?
A: I want to see even more employment opportunities created so that all people in Buffalo can benefit from our renaissance right now. I will continue to work to help business grow and create more jobs for our residents. In my recent State of the City address, I announced that I will expand funding to further expand my summer youth employment program, which – together with our partners – has provided real work experience to more than 22,000 young people since 2006. I will also launch a very exciting partnership to make our summer job opportunities more accessible and better match youth interests through technology. This year, HigherMe, a recent winner of the 43North business plan competition, will provide a new, free, mobile app that will make it easier for youth to apply for job opportunities.
Q: What are you working on now – give us a scoop!
A: I have been working on a number of major projects, including the Northland Corridor and the Jefferson Avenue Development Project. Those two projects are going to have a huge impact on the East Side, Mary. And, have you noticed the explosion of development on Niagara Street? We’ve worked very hard on that and we’re seeing the fruits of our efforts through millions of dollars of new private investment. Also, we’re making investments in youth and recreation with significant upgrades coming to Lovejoy Pool and continued work at Johnny B. Wiley Stadium, just to name a few.
Q:What is the biggest urban issue you are dealing with right now?
A: The issues of government don’t change. What sets my administration apart is the innovation and imagination we use to continue to grow our city into a City of opportunity where all city residents and business owners prosper.
Q: If there’s a vacancy in the Governor’s mansion – would you consider a run? Come on. Tell us.
A: Governor Andrew Cuomo has been a good friend to Buffalo, focusing on our City and region like no other governor has done in modern history. He and I continue to work closely together, and I think he has done a great job as Governor of New York State. He has been a fantastic partner in Buffalo’s continuing economic transformation, and I look forward to working with Andrew Cuomo as our Governor.
Q: What do you think about a football stadium downtown? Would you like to see this and do you think it will happen?
A: I would love to see the Bills stadium downtown. Ultimately, this will be a decision made by Terry and Kim Pegula.
Q: Where do you bring out-of-town folks that come to visit?
A: There are a lot of great places for food and entertainment all over our city. I try to show case each part of our city, whether it’s Downtown, North Buffalo, South Buffalo, the East Side or the West Side, there’s so much to do and see in our city. My hope is to show them enough that they’ll want to keep coming back!
Q: What do you think about our Totally Buffalo festival coming in May? All things Buffalo. I’m sure you’ll be there!
A: I look forward to the first Annual Totally Buffalo Festival taking place on May 27. This is going to add to the list of great festivals that take place every year in Buffalo, bringing thousands of national and international visitors to our great city each summer. I love to show off everything that the Queen City has to offer. We have great food, an exciting arts scene, beautiful architecture, and “Good Neighbors,” as we’re known for. Most importantly, I’m happy that proceeds from this event will go to all Buffalo-based charities, including Carly’s Club. I look forward to seeing residents and visitors at this celebration.
Q: What makes you totally Buffalo?
A: I came to college here and never left. This is home. This city is a great place for families. I eat and shop locally. Most of all, I love the kindness of the residents of the City of Buffalo.