Saying he’s not a career politician, former Rochester Police Chief and recently enrolled Republican La’Ron Singletary announced he was running for Congress in the 25th District.
“I am a public servant who cares about public service, who cares about you, the people,” he said at a news conference Nov. 4 in the atrium of the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.
“I am a public servant who knows about leadership. I am a public servant who cares about integrity. I’m a public servant who cares about the responsibility and the weight of the oath of office that he takes.”
Singletary is running for the seat held by Joe Morelle, who released the following statement:
“There will be a time for politics, but that day is hardly today. I remain focused on providing the real solutions that hardworking families in our community deserve.” He referenced work on neighborhood safety, affordable healthcare, strengthening the economy and the nation’s infrastructure.”
Singletary, a Rochester native who lives in Henrietta, had a 20-year career with the Rochester Police Department. He was fired by Mayor Lovely Warren in September 2020 after the family of Daniel Prude announced his death during an encounter with police.
Singletary has a lawsuit pending against the city.
Singletary’s campaign committee, Singletary 4 Congress, filed with the Federal Election Commission on Nov. 2. The form lists Jarrett K. Felton of Rochester as the treasurer.
Singletary was introduced by Monroe County Republican Committee Chairman Bernie Iacovangelo and former state Senator Joe Robach, both of whom he said approached him over the past months about running for office. Republican county legislators and town supervisors, as well as candidates in the recent election, flanked Singletary at the podium.
Singletary said that over many meetings, Iacovangelo and Robach told him he was man who stood up for his values and principles and that he had “so much more to give to our community.”
In his speech, Singletary referenced the late Gen. Colin Powell, who called for the need to give minority communities a competitive chance. Singletary said it was the job of a public servant to represent “all the people all the time” and that in a democracy, people need to have a choice.
Singletary’s website, singletary4congress.com, lays out his position on public safety, gun rights and the Second Amendment, education including the role of parent choice, federal spending, immigration and foreign policy.
In his speech, he called for getting people back in the workforce and echoed the Republican themes of support of small businesses, fewer regulations and mandates, and fiscal responsibility. He said calls to defund police end up destabilizing neighborhoods. The issue of public safety should not be a democratic issue or Republican issue. It should not be a right issue or left issue. It should, it should be an American issue.
After his speech, Singletary held a brief news conference. After about 12 minutes, he was escorted out as questions continued, including how he would address the issue of Daniel Prude. Here is an edited transcript of the news conference:
If Donald Trump wants to come and campaign for you, what are you going to do?
I don’t know. We’ll have to see. Right now, La’Ron Singletary is running for this congressional district, not Donald Trump. … Today’s day one of the campaign.
How can you say that you’re going to represent all the people all the time on all the issues when Republicans are anti-choice and they are against gun control, and you have people in your district who want choice and want to reduce gun violence.
It’s my job to represent all the people. Certainly there are going to be issues that we may disagree on. But one thing that this community will know is that I will always listen to them as a representative, the person who wants to represent them in Washington and in Congress, that’s my job.
In 2019, you said anytime you can remove a gun off of the streets, that is one less gun that could potentially be used to harm a citizen or a police officer. How do you square being pro-Second Amendment now?
There are people right now who use illegal guns to commit crimes. A lot of the gun laws that we have, especially in New York state, the criminals don’t abide by them. So we have those issues that we have to deal with, but anything that’s going to prevent people from being hurt, I’m in favor.
When did you become a Republican?
I became a Republican over the summer … because there were some issues in the Democratic Party that I just could no longer believe. The party was going too far to the left.
What are top issues that the Democrats went too far to the left on?
One thing is safety. Being a former police chief, I’m a person who must be tough on crime. And I believe that we should support our police department. So public safety was key. We see some of the inadequate policies that have been put in place. … Now we can talk about reform, but we must talk about keeping people safe in neighborhoods as well.
Having recently switched to Republican Party, some of the issues on your campaign website are copied verbatim from Republican issue website elsewhere. How do you defend against someone who might say you’re Republican in name only.
My party that I was affiliated with couple months ago was just too far to the left. And so right now at this moment, my job is to represent the people. That’s what I’m here to represent all the people on the issues that they want to be heard.
You spoke about rising violence, but you were the police chief when we saw shootings escalate. Weren’t you in charge at that time?
You’re right. I was in charge. I was a police chief and we were doing things to try to curb some of the crime that’s going on. We were putting initiatives in. Right now, I just believe that there’s not a lot of support being given to the police department for them to allow them to do their job.
You’re running with a lawsuit against the city. How much of a handicap is that to run a campaign and questions are certainly going to come up.
There is a pending lawsuit that is occurring right now. But the voters will decide in November 2022, what the issues are and how I stand on the issues and how they think I’ll represent them. So ultimately it will be up to the voters.
There are going to be times when what La’Ron Singletary believes doesn’t mesh with the party. And you’re going to be asked these questions for the next year. How do you answer those questions when you’re bucking your own party?
It’s not about the party, it’s about the people and sometimes you may have to go against your party. And I think that’s what makes a great candidate. … I think my job and I think any job of any representative is to listen to the people. You may not always agree with the people, but for sure your job is to listen to them.
Where do you disagree with the Republican party, by the way, sir, on what issue do you disagree most with the Republican party?
There’s a lot of issues that are out there at this moment but right now, I’m not prepared to say what issues I disagree with Republican Party. But again, this is going to be a race about La’Ron Singletary and what impacts the issues here at Rochester, what’s most important to the people here in Rochester.