News Release - James Patrick Smith Sworn in as First Openly Gay Mayor of Rochester

(Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021) – James Patrick Smith was sworn in as Mayor today, becoming the Flower City’s 70th and first openly gay Mayor.

“My pledge today to the people of Rochester is to fulfill the awesome responsibilities of this role with integrity, purpose and grace,” said Mayor Smith. “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 honor the achievements and sacrifice of Rochester’s LGBTQ+ community who have made this historic moment both possible and poignant.”

The Hon. Joanne Winslow, Associate Justice of the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division and a pioneering member of Rochester’s LGBTQ+ community, administered the oath of office. Departing Mayor Lovely A. Warren held the Bible.

Mayor Smith assumed the Office of Mayor after serving as Rochester’s Deputy Mayor since 2019; and the Director of Communications and Special Events since 2015. He has held positions of increasing responsibility in local government for more than 25 years, including as Deputy Monroe County Executive; Chief Executive Officer and Director of the Monroe County Water Authority; and Seneca County Manager.

Mayor Smith is Rochester’s 70th Mayor and will hold Office through December 31. Mayor-elect Malik Evans is set to assume leadership of City government on Jan. 1.

While in office, Mayor Smith said his goals are to continue to advance the initiatives and high customer service standards of the Warren Administration; support the transition to the Evans Administration; celebrate the success and determination of the city’s small business sector; and pay homage to the work of the LGBTQ+ community.

Mayor Smith lives in Rochester’s ABC Neighborhood and, as the son of an immigrant, he holds dual American and Irish citizenship. His mother, Elizabeth Smith (nee Dunne), was born and raised just outside Enniscorthy in Killagoley, County Wexford, Ireland. 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 U.S. Army.

Shortly after taking the oath of office, Mayor Smith appointed Tassie Demps, the City’s Director of Human Resources, as Deputy Mayor. She is the City’s first African-American woman to hold that title.

Deputy Mayor Demps has been a City employee for more than 30 years, beginning her career in 1990 as a Purchasing Control Clerk. While rising through the ranks of City government, Deputy Mayor Demps gained a deep and comprehensive understanding of City operations with a distinct insight into the roles of the employees in every Department. She has also earned Master’s and Bachelor’s Degrees in Business Administration from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

“Tassie Demps is one of City Hall’s most trusted and accomplished administrators and advisors with an unmatched perspective of the most important resource across the enterprise,” said Mayor Smith. “Her institutional knowledge of City government and unsurpassed competence will be a tremendous benefit as we manage the transition. I want to thank her for stepping into this role while also providing me the honor to further enhance the historic significance of this day.”

“When I came to work in City Hall more than 30 years ago, I could not have imagined that I would one day to be asked to fill the role of the City’s highest appointed position,” said Deputy Mayor Demps. “I am incredibly honored 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.”

Video of Mayor Smith taking the oath of office can be found at:


City of Rochester

News Release