By STEVE JONES Staff writer

Mayor Joseph R. Fusco Jr. said his 110-mile trip to Albany Wednesday for the governor’s state of the state address opened doors for him and allowed him to introduce himself to business leaders and elected officials. He said the speech itself was a signal that the governor is serious about solving problems in the state.

Fusco, a Conservative, was on the job for the fourth day Wednesday when he traveled to the state capitol to hear Democrat Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s address. He was invited by the governor’s office and encouraged by two local state officials to attend.

"I’m very glad that I took Sen. (Joseph A.) Griffo’s and Assemblyman (Anthony J.) Brindisi’s advice to go in person. It opened the door for me." He said he met with Griffo, R-47, Rome, and Brindisi, D-116, Utica, in their offices in Albany, and both offered their services to help Rome. He said it was a great introduction to elected officials and businesspeople statewide. Those introductions, he said, showed that Rome faces the same problems and challenges as other cities across New York and that sharing information can help.

"I think he’s going to keep the pressure up, attacking problems and getting them done," said Fusco of Cuomo and his message. While Cuomo’s priorities "might not be all the ones people want," Fusco said, "there’s only so many hours in the day."

Fusco said there were plenty of points in the speech that he liked hearing. He said he was interested in the plans for major investment in state infrastructure, for pension reform and improvements to the education system.

Fusco said the plans to invest heavily in Western New York "bode well for us because we’re in the middle." He said that during the push to help the Buffalo area recover, "we need to get up on their radar and make ourselves more visible." He met several businesspeople from Buffalo at the speech who invited him to come there to learn how Rome might benefit from some of the successes that area has achieved. The same exchange took place with people from Binghamton, he said, and they also expressed interest in coming to Rome to learn about downtown development.

Fusco said another message from the governor that he liked was Cuomo’s intent to get moving on lingering projects that have been in the planning stages for too long. In Rome, he said, the trail system needs that kind of attention. He was referring to the proposed hiking trail from Bellamy Harbor Park on the canal to Delta Lake State Park in the Town of Western, as well as the gap in the canalside trail near Muck Road.

Was there anything in the speech that he disliked? Fusco said: "Not really. He’s the boss. Even if there are things that I think are a little questionable, I have to give him an opportunity to put them in action and see what happens. Then I can formulate an opinion."

As for any topics that weren’t discussed, Fusco said he wanted to hear more about mandate relief. He said counties and municipalities need to have a louder voice on relief, to make sure the state continues to address it.