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More than 90 percent of respondents to this week's RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll favor Rochester Mayor Thomas Richards over City Council president Lovely Warren in next week's Democratic mayoral primary contest.
Eligible voters will go to the polls Sept. 10 to decide who will be the Democratic Party's candidate in the Nov. 5 mayoral election. Of respondents who reside or own a business in the city, 89 percent favor Richards, compared with 11 percent who support Warren.
The overall results are little changed from seven months ago. When asked in early February whom they favored in a primary contest between Richards and Warren, 92 percent of Snap Poll respondents chose Richards.
Richards-the incumbent, who became mayor by winning a March 2011 special election after predecessor Robert Duffy was elected lieutenant governor-has the endorsement of the Monroe County Democratic Committee. The former chairman and CEO of RGS Energy Group Inc., Richards served in Duffy's administration as corporation counsel and deputy mayor.
In addition to serving as City Council president, Warren is lead counsel and chief of staff to state Assemblyman David Gantt, D-Rochester.
Economic development was selected as the top issue in the race for Rochester mayor by a plurality of 44 percent. Sixteen percent said fiscal management is most important, and 12 percent said experience of candidates.
Roughly 630 readers participated in this week's poll, which was conducted Sept. 2 and 3.
In the Democratic mayoral primary contest between Mayor Thomas Richards and City Council president Lovely Warren, whom do you favor?
Thomas Richards: 92%
Lovely Warren: 8%
Do you reside or own a business in the city of Rochester?
In your view, what is the top issue in the race for Rochester mayor?
Economic development: 44%
Fiscal management: 16%
Experience of candidates: 12%
Public safety: 7%
Midtown/downtown redevelopment: 5%
Neighborhood development: 4%
Mayor Richards with his business background has established a very good economic record and has a good working relationship with the county executive. Lovely Warren does not have the same kind of business experience that Mayor Richards has. As a member of the loyal opposition who works in Rochester and lives outside Rochester, I know how important Rochester's economic strength is to the area as a whole. There were so many important issues in the survey that it was hard to pick one. I chose "economic development" because that attracts people, stabilizes the area and leads to neighborhood development. It is said that if you can get 10,000 people to move into a neighborhood, the businesses to serve them will follow. Let's go, Rochester!
-Clifford Jacobson M.D., Vanguard Psychiatric Services
Detroit is a benchmark of a city's erosion, whereas cities such as Indianapolis and Pittsburgh managed to prevent erosion and sustain growth. The mayor must examine all aspects of success and failure. Tom Richards is clearly the most qualified to lead.
-Dennis Kiriazides, retired
The mayor of the city of Rochester is the leader of a team, not an individual able to promote and execute their own ideas. It requires a person with significant executive leadership and managerial experience and talent. Tom Richards has tons of both, and his successful record attests to that.
-Alan Ziegler, president, Rochester Area Business Ethics Foundation
If Rochester is looking for a vibrant, clear-headed and neutral mayor that is also experienced and strategic, Lovely Warren is the clear choice. I always find it ironic when a candidate is running for re-election and they talk about the changes they are going to make if and when they are re-elected; how about making those changes now, Mayor Richards? Although brief, Thomas Richards has had his chance. Like RGS Energy Group, we kindly ask Thomas Richards to retire. Go travel, live life and check in from time to time.
-Ted J. Morris Jr., the Morris Firm
At his age and with his personal resources, Tom Richards doesn't have to run for mayor. We are blessed to have an extraordinary man with extraordinary talent in the office, someone with such a strong commitment to public service and citizenship.
-J.P. Gleason, Gleason Fund Raising Consultants
Warren is backed by David Gantt, who has proven time and again he does not care about his district. Sahlen's Stadium was built with his "blessing," but no money or resources were given to develop the community there. Warren is the same, all talk and ego. Richards gives the city a chance to empower the residents and seize the opportunity if they want to.
I will support the candidate who will consider putting the city of Rochester under a financial control board. The city government has balanced the budget on the backs of the property taxpayers by imposing a suffocating commercial property tax rate, which is one of the highest in the United States. The commercial property tax rate is almost 40 percent higher than Buffalo, which has had a financial control board for almost 10 years, and it has worked. Both candidates have stated they don't want to lose local control. Well, taxpayers, how's that working out for us? The control board is appointed by statewide elected officials who typically appoint local board members; that's not losing local control. Both candidates should educate themselves on what a financial control board is. It's obvious neither candidate will ever be able to reduce the tax rate substantially because of mandates, City Council and their political bosses, the public unions. So, Tom and Lovely, what do you say?
-John Rynne, president, Rynne, Murphy & Associates Inc.
For more comments, go to rbjdaily.com. To participate in the weekly RBJ Snap Poll, sign up for the Daily Report at rbj.net/dailyreport.asp.
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