AN IRISH-AMERICAN has become the first openly gay mayor of Rochester, the fourth-largest city in New York State.
James Patrick Smith, whose mother was born in Killagoley, Co. Wexford, was sworn in as the Flower City's 70th mayor on Thursday.
He will hold the post on an interim basis until Mayor-elect Malik Evans takes charge on January 1, 2022.
'Integrity, purpose, grace'
"My pledge today to the people of Rochester is to fulfil the awesome responsibilities of this role with integrity, purpose and grace," said Smith after taking the oath.
"Each day presents a new set of challenges and opportunities for our city, and I will embrace them in a way that continues the progress of the previous Administration and supports the next Administration's preparations for success.
"I am incredibly grateful for the blessings of my life's experiences as a public servant and gay man, which give me the confidence to navigate this transition and honour the achievements and sacrifice of Rochester's LGBTQ+ community who have made this historic moment both possible and poignant."
Smith served as deputy to his predecessor Lovely Warren, who resigned after pleading guilty to a misdemeanour charge of accepting campaign contributions that exceeded legal limits.
Warren held the Bible during Smith's oath of office, which was administered by the Hon. Joanne Winslow, Associate Justice of the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division and a pioneering member of Rochester's LGBTQ+ community.
Smith’s mother, Elizabeth Smith (nee Dunne), was born and raised just outside Enniscorthy in Killagoley, Co. Wexford.
She immigrated to the United States in 1954 after meeting Mr Smith’s father, Gordon D. Smith, in Europe while he was serving as a Master Sergeant in the US Army.
Daniel Mulhall, the Irish Ambassador to the USA and former Ambassador to Britain, congratulated Smith on his appointment.
Congratulations to James Patrick Smith, a dual US & Irish citizen who was sworn in yesterday as Mayor of #Rochester. His mother immigrated from County Wexford. What a proud achievement for him. We met when I visited Rochester (twinned with my home place, #Waterford) in 2019. pic.twitter.com/BmuHJ11Djw
— Daniel Mulhall (@DanMulhall) December 4, 2021
While in office, Mayor Smith said his goals are to continue to advance the initiatives and high customer service standards of the Warren Administration and support the transition to the Evans Administration.
He also plans to celebrate the success and determination of the city’s small business sector and pay homage to the work of the LGBTQ+ community.
Smith has appointed Tassie Demps, the City's Director of Human Resources, as Deputy Mayor.
She is the first African-American woman to hold the title.