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Will mayor serve if elected?
Rochester, N.Y. --- Mayor Tom Richards tells 13WHAM News he intends on clarifying questions surrounding his candidacy on Wednesday.
This comes after the Independence Party of Monroe County issued a release on Sunday encouraging voters to re-elect Richards in November. The partys chairman Stephen Corryn also encouraged people to donate or volunteer at a recently launched website: www.TurnOutForTom.com
Despite losing the Democratic Primary in September Richards remains on the November ballot as the Independence Party and Working Families Party candidate.
Following the primary loss, Richards announced he was ending his campaign. A week later Richards son passed away after a long battle with cancer and the mayor has kept a low public profile since.
In a statement issued Monday the Mayor stated he had no conversations with any political party leader regarding the mayoral election. While his statement mentioned his family, and his desire to see his new granddaughter for the first time it noticeably did not explain whether he would serve if he was elected in November.
The Mayors spokesman and Director of Communications Gary Walker told 13WHAM News he was involved in writing a portion of the press release issued by the Independence Party. 13WHAM News has also confirmed a top official in the Rochester Fire Department, Molly Clifford, and the Executive Director of UNICON, Kenneth Warner, are also actively involved in the Turn Out For Tom campaign.
Domain registry files indicate that the website www.TurnOutForTom.com was registered on October 9 in Ken Warners name using a uniconrochester.com email address. Independent confirmation of the accuracy of those files has yet to be obtained. Warner declined to comment to 13WHAM News.
The uncertainty behind Richards intentions for the future resonated in City Hall on Tuesday.
"I've gotten several calls from my colleagues, many of them very upset about what is happening (and) calling for ethical investigations but of course as a candidate I don't want to lead that charge, City Council President and Democratic nominee Lovely Warren told 13WHAM News. This could end today. It could've ended yesterday, the Mayor has to step up and show leadership on this issue. If these employees are acting on his behalf he can say so if they are not then he can say that as well, but he has to end this. I can't and I think that that's the feelings from my colleagues on council.
Richards remained behind closed doors for most of Tuesday afternoon and for at least one hour he met with Gary Walker who emerged and answered questions for 13WHAM News. Walker reiterated that his actions were not done with the Mayors blessing but that he did it on his own time and he supports the re-election effort.
Just after 6 p.m. Richards emerged from his office and indicated that he intends to clarify his situation through the media on Wednesday.
"I wasn't aware of any of it, Richards said of the website launched to get him re-elected. No one talked to me about it, I wasn't aware of any of it. I haven't seen it yet so those are things that have been done independently.
When asked if he felt the voters deserve an answer as to whether hell serve if he is elected in November Richards offered this response:
What they deserve Sean is what they'll get from me and that is they deserve a complete explanation of how this works and what happens and it's not as simple as that unfortunately, Richards continued. If it was as simple as that we would've put it to bed long ago so that's why we'll give a statement tomorrow that will explain it.
The Monroe County Democratic Committee Chairman Joseph Morelle also issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon.
"I feel the need to reiterate what should already be abundantly clear to everyone. The Democratic Party, its leaders, committee members and activists strongly and enthusiastically support Lovely Warren for Mayor. She won a clear and resounding victory in the Democratic Primary, she will be the next Mayor of Rochester and we are eagerly looking forward to the new administration."
Green Party Candidate Alex White also appears on the November 5 ballot.