Newly elected Mayor Thomas S. Richards is wasting no time getting to work. And there is no shortage of work to be done.
Richards, who won a special election Tuesday with 49 percent of the votes, met Wednesday with R. Carlos Carballada, who has been acting mayor since mid-January.
“I need to start getting serious working on that budget,” Richards said before their private discussion.
High on the list is closing a projected $50 million budget gap.
Richards noted Carballada and staff have been working on many of the problems and he will now work with them to assess the city’s situation and look at what options are available.
“This isn’t new to me,” Richards said. “I think I know what I’m getting into.”
He served as corporation counsel to Mayor Robert Duffy who resigned at the end of 2010 to assume the post of lieutenant governor. Richards served as deputy mayor until resigning Jan. 20 after questions were raised about whether he could serve as deputy mayor and run for the mayoral position at the same time.
Carballada, who had been commissioner of Neighborhood and Business Development, then became acting mayor. The succession and scheduling of a special election was unsuccessfully challenged in court.
Richards said Wednesday that he hasn’t made any staff selections yet, but that there will be a deputy mayor, although the functions may be redefined. He said he has the luxury of time to address those issues.
They wouldn’t say whether Carballada would be selected as deputy mayor or return to his previous post, but Carballada hinted at possibilities.
“One of the things you have to consider when you talk to someone like me is my longevity,” Carballada said. “These positions require an awful lot of energy. As you get older, your level of energy decreases.”
He said a deputy mayor would have to be someone “in the game” that is committed to be in the position as long as the mayor, something he said he was not sure he could do.
“Don’t panic, we haven’t worn him out yet,” Richards joked.
Carballada said he was happy that Richards was elected and happy because he “could begin to sort of ease out of this position” and go back “to doing what I was doing before.”
Richards said he will work with the unions, some of whose members opposed his candidacy.
“We have to work with each other,” he said. “I have to work with them and they have to work with me, but we’ve got a common goal here. Elections are about making distinctions. Governing is about bringing people together. It is the opposite of the campaign.”
Richards, a Democrat, said he will wait to be sworn in until after April 11, when the ballots from military personnel are counted and certified.
William A. Johnson Jr., who ran on the Working Families and Independence lines, received 7,827 and 2,480 votes, respectively. Alexander J. White, the Green Party candidate, received 2,133 votes.