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Readers pessimistic about Warren as mayor

Rochester Business Journal
September 13, 2013

More than three-quarters of respondents to this week's RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll are pessimistic about City Council President Lovely Warren's ability to effectively lead the city of Rochester if she is elected mayor in November. Warren defeated incumbent Thomas Richards in Tuesday's Democratic mayoral primary.
Warren received more than 58 percent of some 14,500 votes cast. Richards had 41.5 percent.
Richards, who remains on the Independence Party and Working Families Party lines, said Tuesday night that he would take a few days to decide whether to pursue re-election in November. Alex White has the backing of the Green Party for the general election.
In a last week's Snap Poll, roughly 90 percent of respondents favored incumbent Richards over Warren in the primary.
In this week's poll, 42 percent of respondents who identified themselves as Democrats said they are very pessimistic about Warren's prospects as mayor, and a quarter said they are somewhat pessimistic. Thirty-three percent said they are very or somewhat optimistic.
Among Republicans, 57 percent said they are very pessimistic and 27 percent described themselves as somewhat pessimistic. This compares with 4 percent who are very optimistic, and 11 percent who are somewhat optimistic.
A graduate of Albany Law School, Warren has been a council member since 2007 and its president since January 2010. She also is lead counsel and chief of staff for state Assemblyman David Gantt, D-Rochester.
In an RBJ interview, Warren said her No. 1 goal as mayor would be to help fix the city's educational system. On the issue of economic development, she said more needs to be done to ensure that all city residents get an opportunity to participate in the economic recovery.
A significant majority of respondents-70 percent-said neighborhood development is the area in which Warren would likely make the greatest positive impact as mayor.
Nearly 600 readers participated in this week's poll, which was conducted the morning of Sept. 11.

Are you optimistic or pessimistic about Lovely Warren's ability to effectively lead the city, if she is elected mayor in November?
Very optimistic: 6%
Somewhat optimistic: 16%
Somewhat pessimistic: 29%
Very pessimistic: 49%

In which of the following areas would Lovely Warren be likely to make the greatest positive impact as mayor?
Neighborhood development: 70%
Education: 18%
Public safety: 5%
Economic development/job creation: 5%
Fiscal management: 2%

What is your political affiliation?
Democrat: 29%
Republican: 32%
Non-affiliated: 34%
Other: 5%

Richards came across as tired and the manager of decline. I’m not sure Warren has a clear agenda to rebuild the city, but with Richards, you were certain he didn’t. Warren now needs to find the best thinkers she can find and get them on her team. The future of Rochester is either Pittsburgh (a huge success story) or Detroit (not so much).
—Bob Sarbane

Tough and experienced fiscal administration is absolutely top priority still, and Ms. Warren has not got that gift. I hope that Tom Richards will run hard and successfully on his other election lines and that the voters will turn out next time. We need him. (Disclaimer: I am not a city resident.)
—Jon L. Schumacher, Nixon Peabody LLP

I’m optimistic about Lovely Warren. It appears to me that she’s an intelligent, driven and motivated woman. I hope she brings bold and courageous ideas and leadership to the city of Rochester. What is good for the city is good for the region.
—Antonino Barbagallo, Foto AB Inc., Fairport

There is no choice nor a desire for choice in the city. As an example, the Rochester City School District is the worst in the state and all (school board) incumbents get re-elected. Unfortunately, Mayor Richards offered progress if the residents chose it. Some cannot handle the progress, and their fear of being left behind demanded that they halt it. Ms. Warren offers the best hope in stopping the progress.
—Dom Pullano

I wish her the best and hope for the best. However, from my vantage point it seems only the unsuccessful lawyers end up in politics. And law school does not prepare you for managing a large municipality like business experience does. Couple that with the fact that she works as chief of staff for David Gantt, who, while being the “dean” of our local state delegation is nearly impossible to reach and obtain help or even a reply to questions from, and I fear the worst.
—George Thomas, Ogden

Education in Rochester is embarrassing with a graduation rate of 42 percent. Until you change the culture in Rochester and get parents supporting kids in school, it is a major uphill battle. Parents need to be held accountable. If Lovely Warren has a plan that will achieve results, I am all for it.
—Mike Hogan, Information Packaging

I agree that city public schools need attention, and Ms. Warren has clearly made that her priority. However, city schools are tied to desirable urban residential areas. People don’t choose to live in urban neighborhoods, and that drags on tax-based funding for educational initiatives. I don’t understand how Ms. Warren will begin/continue to attract affluent residents into city neighborhoods.
—Wayne Donner, Rush

Ms. Warren has campaigned on a platform of ideas that are destructive to the public education system in Rochester. She has fallen victim to the pro-charter school/privatization propaganda and appears not to have examined the data that disproves the magical thinking of the profiteers. Although our mayor has no direct control of the Rochester City School District, I fear that her words and potential actions will undermine the district and its efforts to serve the students. Every proposal that was quoted in the Democrat and Chronicle would weaken and undermine the district and/or divert money from the district or substitute the judgment of outsiders for education professionals. As a city resident, I believe we should be supporting and offering constructive help to our district, not investing in for-profit schemes.
—Lola Kelly

I admire Ms. Warren’s enthusiasm and energy. However, her lack of any real management experience would work against her success. The thing I worry most about is that Mayor Richards has an exceptional management team of experienced department heads that handle the day-to-day operations of City Hall. Since Warren hasn’t provided any insight as to who she would appoint and I doubt that many of them would stay, it seems to me that continued success of current initiatives is unlikely. I also believe that her relationship with both City Council and the Rochester City School District would become contentious. I encourage Richards and his supporters to stay in the fight on the Independence and Working Families party lines for the future of the city; (he can run) in a general election where everyone can vote, and perhaps Democrats will be less sanguine. I’m confident Richards will prevail.
—Frank Orienter, Rochester resident and voter

The election of Lovely Warren would be disastrous to the city of Rochester. She would put an end to the progress that has been made over the last few years in revitalizing and rebuilding the city—particularly downtown. The Republican Party should endorse, and the citizens elect, Tom Richards so that his “work” may continue.
—Harry Caruso, retired

I’m a white homeowner who voted for Lovely. Let’s face it: The last three biggest events by the two last mayors have been $65 million for Midtown, $12 million to $15 million for filling in the Broad Street tunnel and $20-some million for filling in the Inner Loop. Are you kidding? Our schools are sitting on the brink of a cosmic sinkhole, our neighborhoods are becoming shooting galleries and we have a police department that is burnishing its reputation for being simultaneously incompetent and brutal. Yikes! Get that white, big-business Democrat establishment out of here. As for Tom Richards, I understand his desire to give back to a community that he looted for millions through his job at RG&E, but he’ll just have to volunteer to head the RPO or some other dysfunctional, mostly white non-profit and leave the city to people who live in all the neighborhoods.
—John Perry Smith

Low turnout, too bad. People thought it was a shoo-in; why bother voting now? Wait until November. Hopefully Tom will run in November.
—Marty Cournan

I haven’t supported Lovely Warren in her bid for mayor, but if she wins the election I would support her. I am really getting tired of the “fat cats” running our cities, states and country who are not close to the real problems communities face. I would look forward to someone not of that category bringing in more grass-roots ideas. While I like Mayor Tom Richards, I feel he and our other bureaucrats have spent far too much money and time trying to rebuild downtown Rochester and have neglected our inner-city neighborhoods. Something really has to take hold to clean them up and get people taking more pride in their neighborhoods. I think Ms. Warren might just be that person. Only time will tell. But I’m not sure the primary was an indication of majority support for her, since it was such a low turnout. I think she has a long way to go to win the election and convince the business community that while she will be doing a lot to support the neglected parts of Rochester she needs to support our businesses as well.
—Grant Osman, retired

Tom Richards is still on the ballot under two parties. With the small turnout in the Democratic primary, he still could win the general election, if he decides to run. If Mr. Richards withdraws, then the election is Ms. Warren’s. The two common denominators driving poverty are: 1) not finishing high school; and 2) not waiting until you are married to have children. Ms. Warren will have ample opportunity to work on both. Waiting for the educational system to help prevent poverty may be waiting too long. The highest priority, with the greatest potential benefit, should be to encourage poor young women not to have children until after they are married. Ms. Warren’s bully pulpit would be better to prevent out-of-wedlock births than Mr. Richards.
—Clifford Jacobson M.D., Vanguard Psychiatric Services

Tom Richards has an impressive resume of business successes, and he has proved himself as an extraordinary businessman. If Lovely Warren offers a position to Bill Johnson, we’re done as a city. She’s an educated woman; I hope she is smart enough to surround herself with city-minded folks and not a pocket-lining ex-mayor.
—Jason Sumner, Rochester

I wonder if David Gantt will be the power behind the throne?
—Charles Valenza, retired attorney

Do we really need another community organizer? It has worked so well for us nationally. Hopefully, Richards will still run in the general election.
—Steve Wichtowski, Honeoye

For more comments, go to  To participate in the weekly RBJ Snap Poll, sign up for the Daily Report at

What You're Saying 

Carrie Remis at 3:16:21 PM on 9/13/2013
You'd think that the business community would be more concerned about the mayor running on the Working Families Party--one of the teachers union tentacles. His win would mean that City Hall is owned by NYSUT. There would be no hope for education reform, and by extension Roch...  Read More >
Andrew Brown at 10:42:26 PM on 9/15/2013
"Readers pessimistic about Warren as mayor" - big surprise from a publication aimed at and read by primarily white, Anglo-Saxon, conservative men who are afraid of a strong, intelligent woman of color.
bob mullen at 9:04:32 PM on 10/4/2013
warren would make a poor mayor
Marie Gillman at 1:41:51 PM on 1/2/2015
Lovely Warren is the worst mayor Rochester has ever had in my lifetime. What a shame that she will be destroying what is left of our city.

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