Binghamton Mayor Rich David is taking the helm at the New York Conference of Mayors at the confluence of a number of challenges, COVID-19 being just one of them.
“When you run for mayor, the last thing you expect is that you would ever have to deal with an international pandemic and health crisis and a collapsing local and national economy taking place simultaneously, while you’re focusing on the day to day services of your municipality,” David told Spectrum News.
There’s a chance that David is underselling the problem.
Not only are cities (along with the state, led by a very vocal Governor Andrew Cuomo) fighting for direct aid to municipalities, state and local economies have been devastated by falling revenue, the decennial census is currently underway and New York residents are reportedly being undercounted, demands for police reform and accompanying calls to address structural racism have monopolized mayors in multiple cities, and, to top it off, the state comptroller announced last week that employer contributions to the retirement system are increasing, which will cost municipalities like Binghamton even more.
“I don’t think we’ve seen a scenario like this before where you have so many national issues that are colliding and coalescing and impacting cities the way we’re seeing it today,” David said. “Certainly, we all know that there are going to be challenges and hurdles on regular basis, but I think this is probably the most challenging time for all mayors of cities large and small across the nation in a generation or more.”
Mayor David takes the reins at NYCOM from Village of Freeport Mayor Robert T. Kennedy, who served from May 2019 through August of this year.