Mayor-elect Malik Evans pledged his administration will be open, collaborative and work to create a Rochester full of hope “with an exciting future.”
Evans, who defeated incumbent Lovely Warren in the June primary, was unopposed in the Nov. 2 general election. There were several hundred write-in votes, but Evans captured 98% of the vote, according to unofficial results from the Monroe County Board of Elections.
The day after his victory, he stood with County Executive Adam Bello to talk about the cooperation and collaboration needed to improve quality of life across Rochester and Monroe County.
Evans compared the anticipated partnership to the one formed a generation ago between Republican County Executive Lucien Morin and Democratic Mayor Tom Ryan. This time, the county executive and mayor are both Democrats.
“We face significant challenges and we both know that people want results,” Bello said at a news conference at Evans’ campaign headquarters at One East Ave.
Bello said Evans “is the right person at the right time for our city and our community. … Mayor-elect Evans ran his campaign on building bridges, and this is significant. People all over the city and county voted for a government that works together.”
Several seats in the Monroe County Legislature were too close to call and await the count of absentee ballots, which by law can’t take place until the week after the general election. Republicans currently hold a one-seat majority.
Throughout his campaign, Evans called Rochester the heart of Monroe County and said if the heart is not strong, the rest of the county will be ailing.
Regardless of the makeup of the legislature and the recognition of all members to realize the central role of the city, Evans laid out his administration’s guiding principles:
- Build the bridges to Rochester’s future.
- Promote positive systemic and structural change through transparent and collaborative leadership;
- Offer equitable access to essential municipal services;
- Enable productive partnerships among government and the private and nonprofit sectors;
- Enhance quality of life through investments that create vibrant neighborhoods and employment opportunities.
- Be intentional, creative and bold within the confines of the city’s resources;
- Be flexible by realizing plans and ideas may change;
- Develop, support and empower employees;
- Consider the larger context of the county and region;
- Promote partnerships that place collaboration over ego;
- Involve citizens as partners;
- Fulfill the primary goal of city government by providing high-quality planning, zoning, code enforcement, public safety, clean water, physical infrastructure (lights, roads, parks, forestry, etc.), and other critical municipal government services; and
- Ensure that citizens’ interests are primary and not those of special interests.
Evans said he was humbled by the election and reminded other officials that their service is a privilege. He said voters expect their representatives to cooperate and to deliver. He also asked for voters’ grace and patience as his administration takes shape.
Evans said every person joining the administration will need to buy into the vision, mission and values. “I want them to understand that they have a duty and obligation if I call them to come serve. … come join an administration that is working on behalf of the citizens of Rochester.”
Evans said he would begin announcing key people in his administration in December. One of the highest profile positions is expected to be the police chief. Evans said he wanted a national search and the person may not be in place when the new mayor takes office on Jan. 1.
“We’re not going to pick someone just because we need to have an arbitrary date,” Evans said. “That would be foolhardy and it would not be good for this community. And it would be a waste of money because then if you have to go back and find someone else.”
Here is a look at other city offices affecting the city:
The Democratic primary winners for at-large seats advanced.
Incumbents Willie Lightfoot, Mitch Gruber and Miguel Melendez Jr. will be joined by Stanley Martin and Kim Smith.
Council will choose a new president, as Loretta Scott did not run for re-election.
“With the new administration too, there’s going to be a lot of priority shifts,” said Melendez, who attended the election night event at the Hyatt. “For the incumbents that are coming back to council, hopefully we’re able to provide some stability in terms of direction and really look at addressing some of the issues that during this election cycle people were concerned about, such as housing, public safety. For me personally, I wanted to address issues around the opioid crisis coming out of the pandemic.”
Melendez said there are many issues that will spark debate and require dialogue to improve the city. “I’m confident that we can, as, as elected leaders can come together and figure this thing out together. We have to, we absolutely have to. The public put us here to do it, and I’m looking forward to the challenge but also looking forward to figuring out how we as a council can bring new issues to the table and discuss them and move things along.”
Rochester City School District Board of Education
Camille Simmons, Cynthia Elliott and James Patterson, all Democrats, were elected. Simmons and Patterson are new to the board.
Monroe County Legislature
Republicans have a 15-14 edge in this session, but the support by the Black and Asian Democratic Caucus and Vince Felder created a supermajority and a 20-9 vote on several issues.
Sabrina LaMar is the only caucus member who remains. The other members and Felder either did not run or lost in the primary.
Yversha Roman, who was elected minority leader by the nine Democrats not associated with the caucus, said she hoped the incoming legislators could work together. Roman trailed Republican challenger Orlando Rivera by less than 100 votes, pending absentee ballots.
Mercedes Simmons, who defeated Felder in the primary and will represent the 22nd District, said she was disheartened by the divisiveness in the legislature.
“You’re going to have disagreements within a group,” she said. “It’s important we work through those and keep our eye on what the focus is.”
As for races for town supervisor particularly in Irondequoit, where Rory Fitzpatrick was ahead of Joe Morelle Jr., and in contested Monroe County Legislature races, Monroe County Democratic Committee Chairman Zach King and the Monroe County Republican Committee each had their take.
King was looking for Democratic victories in the 16th District, also in Irondequoit, where Dave Long edged ahead of incumbent and Legislature President Dr. Joe Carbone.
“When it comes to certain races, the absentees are looking very favorable to Democrats,” King said.
He also predicted less divisiveness in the legislature in the new session.
“Legislators will vote their conscience and they won’t necessarily follow party lines every time, either Republican or Democrat, but I don’t believe the schism will be as large.”
A statement from the Republicans read in part: “Last night the voters of Monroe County spoke and said that good government and responsible spending remain the most important issues on the minds of residents. Republicans were re-elected in our towns and in our County Legislature. Voters also decided that new Republican government officials needed to be elected in both Irondequoit and Henrietta. This year has shown us that lawlessness, higher taxes, and reckless disregard for common sense legislation are not what the people of Monroe County desire. They want good government, safer streets, and lower taxes. …”