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Monroe County Legislator James Sheppard Formally Announces Run for Mayor

By Staff

 

James SheppardMonroe County Legislator and former chief of police James Sheppard has officially announced he will run for mayor, sparking a heated response from the two other potential candidates in the race, incumbent Mayor Lovely Warren, and former WROC-TV news anchor Rachel Barnhart.

Mayor Warren and Barnhart are both reportedly considering runs for the office, but have yet to announce their plans.

“People are dying for change,” Sheppard stated. “And, because they’ve communicated to me that they need change, I want to bring that change.”

Sheppard, a Democrat, has also criticized the city’s current administration for its lack of “transparency and unity.”

He was elected to the Monroe County legislature in 2015, and prior to that he was Rochester’s chief of police for 33 years.

Warren and Barnhart, also Democrats, responded to the announcement by citing Sheppard’s use of “heavy-handed police tactics” and “discriminatory policing policies,” during his time as chief of police in the city.

“Everything I did in my police career was about saving lives,” Sheppard stated.

Warren’s campaign has also labeled Sheppard a “slum lord,” citing a vacant property he owned in the city for several years.

“During his prior tenure with the city in the police department, and with the office of public integrity, Sheppard engaged in behavior typical of a slum lord, through his ownership of a vacant and derelict city property,” the committee said. “While he may have satisfied his legal responsibilities by paying the many fines associated with the numerous code violations on this property, his ethical and moral obligations were far from met. His actions were part of a pattern of ignoring rules and laws applicable to others, but apparently not applicable to him.”

According to Sheppard, most of the violations were due to tenants who’d moved into the property he initially purchased in 1985, after he moved to Walworth, N.Y. in 1993.

He then returned to the city in 2007, and sold the house not long after he’d become director of the city’s office of public integrity.

Sheppard said any unpaid fines charged to the property had been applied to the taxes he’d paid at the end of each year, and had he not paid the fines, he would not have been to sell the property.

“Under Mayor Lovely Warren’s leadership, our city has seen an unprecedented period of growth and progress with construction and investment, not only throughout downtown and our center city, but more importantly throughout our neighborhoods as well,” Warren’s campaign said. “Mr. Sheppard’s candidacy for mayor… is offensive to the people of Rochester.”

According to Sheppard, he plans to focus on crime, unemployment, and poverty, going forward, instead of on personal attacks.

Read the full statements from both Warren’s and Barnhart’s camps, below:

Friends of Lovely Warren Committee: “County Legislator James Sheppard has not delivered one single legislative initiative for his constituents since he has held county office, and was the only legislator to vote against protecting taxpayer dollars when the county established the Office of Public Integrity, and now he wants to run for mayor.
During his prior tenure with the city in the police department and with the office of public integrity, Sheppard engaged in behavior typical of a slum lord through his ownership of a vacant and derelict city property. While he may have satisfied his legal responsibilities by paying the many fines associated with the numerous code violations on this property, his ethical and moral obligations were far from met. His actions were part of a pattern of ignoring rules and laws applicable to others but apparently not applicable to him.
Late last year, he admitted that he benefited from the illegal waiving of fees in the county clerk’s office, and paid back those unpaid fees only after the illegal practice was brought to the public’s attention. You cannot on the one hand try to be a law maker, while on the other hand engage in the behavior of a law breaker. Additionally, our city’s neighborhoods are besieged by problem property owners who willfully neglect their responsibilities to properly upkeep their properties. It is highly offensive to imagine an individual running for mayor, and suggesting he will work with residents to overcome these problems when he has actively contributed to them.
But this should come as no surprise to our residents, as he only does things when it benefits him. Mr. Sheppard does not have strong or established ties to city neighborhoods, or the city’s electorate. He only moved his family to a neighborhood in the city of Rochester from Wayne County in 2007, when it was required for further police promotion, and he was not even registered to vote, either in Wayne County or Rochester, before 2014. As police chief, Mr. Sheppard oversaw an era known for heavy-handed police tactics under his ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy, and where our police officers were centralized and removed from neighborhood policing.
In stark contrast, under Mayor Lovely Warren’s leadership, our city has seen an unprecedented period of growth and progress with construction and investment, not only throughout downtown and our center city, but more importantly throughout our neighborhoods as well. Mayor Warren was born in Rochester grew up in the city’s 19th Ward and she continues to live with her family off of Clifford Ave. in Northeast Rochester. She has returned our police department to a neighborhood-based patrol model, introduced body worn cameras, and actively engaged the community to improve police relations, all while bringing crime to a 25 year low. She has engaged and partnered with neighbors from the grass roots to fight the challenges of heroin on our streets. Mayor Warren’s careful fiscal stewardship has resulted in two bond rating upgrades for the city, she has brought hundreds of millions of dollars in investment by the state and federal governments, along with progressive policies always focused on bringing more jobs, safer more vibrant neighborhoods, and better educational opportunities to every resident of Rochester.
Mr. Sheppard’s candidacy for Mayor, after serving only one year as a county legislator without any results, is offensive to the people of Rochester.”
Rachel Barnhart’s Exploratory Committee: “James Sheppard may be supported by one of the two Democratic political machines in our area, but there are serious unanswered questions about his past support of discriminatory policing policies, among other things. Voters deserve a candidate who will genuinely support policies that treat people of all races equally. Our friends and neighbors have an important choice to make this September, and we look forward to helping them make an informed decision.”

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