Miguel Melendez Jr. has been appointed by City Council to fill the vacant at-large seat. Council is scheduled to introduce legislation on Sept. 24 to formally vote on the appointment.
Melendez replaces Jackie Ortiz, who had to resign when she was elected Democratic Commissioner to the Board of Elections. Melendez said he began to seriously consider applying for the seat when Ortiz’s departure became imminent.
Melendez’s appointment is through Dec. 31, 2021, which coincides with the end of the term for that seat. Melendez said he anticipates running for the seat.
Melendez, the chief community engagement officer at Ibero-American Action League, said he has three areas of interest to bring to council:
- Neighborhood revitalization: “We need to concentrate investment in areas where we have concentrated challenges,” he said.
- Building coalitions: “I believe in … figuring out how do we do this work together, not just as an independent indivual on my own.”
- Advancing equity across the city: “There are some neighborhoods that are left out. There are some projects that are not inclusive of Black and brown folks, For me, that’s an opportunity to help advance all citizens, not just a select few.”
Melendez said he participated in some of the protests over the death of Daniel Prude so that he could better understand the issues. “I just want to figure out what are the paths forward so can prevent this from every happening again. Also, think about what other reforms or changes can we make to make the system better for every Rochesterian.”
In a news release announcing the appointment, City Council President Loretta Scott wrote, “ At this crucial time in our City’s history, we need thoughtful, engaged leaders like Miguel Meléndez to help move our community forward. … The combination of Miguel’s support and connections in the community combined with his understanding of city government based on his extensive work and advocacy with the city made him the Council’s choice for appointment. …”
Melendez has experience in Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), organizing various efforts by building on community strengths. He has led efforts such as Project HOPE (Healthy Outcomes through Participation, Education & Empowerment) and Project CLEAN (Community, Law Enforcement & Assistance Network), a Department of Justice funded effort to tackle the opioid epidemic in Rochester. In 2016, he led development of the El Camino Revitalization Area Charrette & Vision plan
Melendez graduated from East High School and holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in philosophy from St. John Fisher College.