In a historic moment, James Patrick Smith was voted to be the fourth largest city of New York’s 70th mayor Thursday, December 2nd, making him the first openly LGBTQ+ mayor to hold office in Rochester.
Smith’s mother, Elizabeth Smith, was born and raised just outside of Enniscorthy in Killagoley, Co. Wexford. After meeting their son’s father, Gorden D. Smith, in 1954 while he served as a Master Sergeant in the United States Army, she immigrated to the United States.
Holding dual Irish and American citizenship, Mayor Smith assumed the Office after serving as Rochester’s Deputy Mayor since 2019 and the Director of Communications and Special Events since 2015.
Serving in local government for more than 25 years, his duties have steadily increased in responsibility and title; respectively, he has served as Deputy Monroe County Executive, Chief Executive Officer and Director of the Monroe County Water Authority, and Seneca County Manager.
Smith is a champion of LGBTQ+ rights within Rochester, seeking to positively impact lives at the local level.
“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,” stated Smith.
A key part of Mayor Smith’s plan is to highlight the success of Rochester’s small business sector and celebrate the hard work of the city’s LGBTQ+ community.
The oath was administered by the Honor Joanne Winslow, the Associate Justice of the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division. Winslow is a lesbian and a renowned member of Rochester’s LGBTQ+ community.
The Irish Ambassador to the United States and former Ambassador to Britain, Daniel Mulhall, 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
One of Smith’s first actions as mayor was to appoint Tassie Demps, the City’s Director of Human Resources, as Deputy Mayor. She is Rochester’s first African-American woman to hold this title.
“I am incredibly honoured to be the first African-American woman to hold this title and I am grateful for this opportunity to validate by example the City of Rochester’s commitment to nurturing talent and encouraging all of its employees to not only succeed but flourish,” she said.
Mayor Smith will hold Office through December 31, 2021, until Mayor-elect Malik Evans assumes leadership of the City government on January 1, 2021.
“My pledge today to the people of Rochester is to fulfil the awesome responsibilities of this role with integrity, purpose and grace,” he said.
When more LGBTQ+ leaders are elected, they serve their communities while also inspiring the future generation of LGBTQ+ kids to pursue political careers.
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