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Ad Implores Bill Clark to Run for School Board

Patti Singer
pattisinger@minorityreporter.net

Bill Clark at a news conference Nov. 18, 2020 after RCSD Board of Education President Van White (at rear) selected him to fill a vacancy on the board. File photo

From the moment he was appointed in November to fill a vacancy on the Rochester City School District Board of Education, Bill Clark said he would finish the term that runs through 2021 and not run for election.

Some people want Clark to reconsider, and at least one person took a full-page ad in Minority Reporter.

“Bill Clark, for the sake of our children, run for Rochester City School Board. Our community needs you.” The ad was paid for “by anonymous community member.”

But Clark is adamant.

“I made a limited commitment,” he said. “One of the reasons I made the commitment is you always want to help your community. If you feel you can make a difference, you want to do that. The fact that it was time limited made it more attractive to me.”

School board president Van White selected Clark last fall after Natalie Sheppard resigned to take the position as deputy Democratic commissioner of the Monroe County Board of Elections.

The remaining school board commissioners could not decide among a dozen or so applicants, and procedure called for the board president to appoint a commissioner.

When he announced Clark’s appointment, White said, “We don’t need further division. I determined the best course of action was to pick an exceptional citizen servant who is a role model to children and families in the community.”

The seat held by Clark is one of three up for election in 2021. The terms for White and Vice President Cynthia Elliott expire at the end of the year, and White has indicated he is running for a judgeship. Elliott received designation from the Monroe County Democratic Committee.

Clark, 68, was retired as president of the Urban League of Rochester. He finished 2020 and was appointed by the board for 2021.

The ad appeared in the Feb. 25-March 3 print edition of Minority Reporter and has been on minorityreporter.net.

At the conclusion of the board meeting Feb. 25, Clark told his colleagues about the ad.

“I did not authorize anyone to put anything out on my behalf,” he said. “It is my intention to serve through the end of the year and let the election process take place. I thought it was necessary to say that because I don’t want to impede our process as we work on behalf of the students.”

In a follow-up conversation, Clark said several people over the past few months have asked him to reconsider. He said they point to his tenure at the Urban League and its education programs, and his demeanor as a voice of reason during the board’s meetings.

“I basically indicated no to everyone,” he said. “I’m glad to see people feel I can make a difference, but I made a commitment when I joined that it would be for the year.”