Finding a successor for Lt Gov. Robert Duffy as Rochester mayor is getting more complicated as the acting mayor, Thomas Richards, resigned today amid questions about whether his role violates the Hatch Act.
Duffy resigned as Rochester mayor at year’s end after being elected as lieutenant governor last November alongside Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Duffy had been elected to a second term as mayor in 2009.
Richards, a former RG&E executive and the city’s chief counsel under Duffy, was named acting mayor and announced he planned to run for the seat in a special election.
But those plans are now scuttled, with the city’s business development director, R. Carlos Carballada, taking over as interim mayor.
Acting Mayor Thomas Richards abruptly resigned today, ushering in the city’s neighborhood and business development commissioner, R. Carlos Carballada, as his replacement and the city’s third leader in as many weeks.
Richards announced his departure effective Thursday during a 10 a.m. news conference in City Hall, amid questions surrounding his legitimacy as mayor and whether he would violate the federal Hatch Act should he run in a special election this spring to permanently fill the vacant seat of mayor.
“While the Hatch Act is not very clear, the options to me are clear,” Richards said. “I could not in good conscience continue to serve,” he said, and run the risk of being in violation of the Hatch Act.
Richards argued that he is not in violation of the Hatch Act and that he believed he was legitimately the mayor. He said that for purposes of the Hatch Act he may not be sufficiently the mayor, but he believed the Hatch Act complaint was largely a result of intramural politics, that it is a “political trap” and that the act is only enforced when a complaint is made.