Hilary and Rocket,
My basic issue with her challenging Harry is this: I'd would've rather seen Rachel working with Harry in the Assembly after defeating a Republican, or sitting in Rich Funke's Senate seat, than get the zero-sum intraparty warfare we got. Yet what's past is past, and she obviously grew from the experience, as any good candidate would.
You also mistake my contrast between the two launch events. I simply thought that the demonstration of grassroots interest at Shepard's launch was a positive, but had no considered the less physical but perhaps more widespread reach of Rachel's announcement. She obviously has a knack for adeptly using technology, and I remain open to the idea that you don't need passionate events, physically powerful gatherings of people that connect and motivate them in a way you can't get over a modem, to succeed in politics in 2017.
In terms of substance, I admit I have been pleasantly surprised by the level of depth to her proposals, her platform is well developed and sounds great. Growing up here has taught me to be skeptical when something sounds too good to be true, and I worry that her whole platform is one big IF. IF she gets the property tax cut to work (I'm not saying it wouldn't be fantastic), then everything else is affordable. Everything in her platform is fantastic policy, I love it, but it costs $$, and I worry she's staking too much on her ability to slay some of the dragons haunting Rochester these last few decades. There's a lot of uncertainty in whether she can pull that all off, and I feel I need to see more in terms of leadership before signing on to a leap of faith like that. However, I have an open mind, and I expect it to be an interesting 7 months lol.
I don't think a demonstration of grassroots support is a bad thing for a candidate, I have zero problem with there being positive energy among the electorate. I also have seen far too many candidates roll out extensive platforms that sound good but have no basis in reality and then sell themselves as the only vehicle to implement them. I prefer a candidate who will stay open to new input, build a framework and a culture of inclusiveness and transparency, and actually grind out the hard work of meeting with voters and actually listening to them, rather than try and wow me through flashy proposals and media sizzle. Her primary challenge to Harry Bronson (upstate's only openly gay Assemblyman, which as a gay man, I noticed) was her choice, she moved into the district to challenge him, rather than a sitting Republican. Her advisers are from the same ilk that advise Mayor Warren, so if you think Rachel is the candidate to heal the factional divisions in the Democratic Party here, I respectfully disagree.
While Rachel is obviously smart and energetic, and I respect her career as a journalist, I'm left with a sense of 'Where's the beef?' I found it very strange that there were no voters or supporters at her news conference, as opposed to the hundreds of cheering people at Jim Sheppard's announcement or the crowds that Lovely Warren has been known to bring in. Does she not have any volunteers or supporters willing to come to her kickoff news conference, or does she seriously believe that she can win an election simply by talking to the media and tweeting a lot? A 50% property tax cut that you'll flesh out the details of after you're elected (hoping the county AND Albany will just up and co-operate), PLEASE, it's a financial fast ferry waiting to happen, and I need to see an actual plan before I trust you with Rochester's finances. Rochester needs SERIOUS, QUALIFIED, INCLUSIVE leadership to tackle the problems Rachel mentioned at her news conference. I simply don't see a lifelong media personality, using media-centric star power and tactics to run her race, with a recent history of running a personalized, negative campaign against a fellow Democrat, as being what Rochester needs right now. I see someone who got a rush from challenging Harry Bronson, all flash and no substance, with no real support in the neighborhoods themselves (although I'm down to be proven wrong). Good journalism does not equal good leadership, and Rochester deserves better. While I consider her a far better choice than the current administration (the Mayor's response summed up the level of intellect and quality she and her cronies bring to the table), I need to see more details about such significant proposals and a genuine outreach by her to all our neighborhoods before I consider her qualified for the job. Either way, I think we should all brace for a very nasty race judging by the rise in out-gassing from the Snark Factory (also known as City Hall), because they obviously have given up on running the City and are now just flinging mud.
Rochester is in desperate need of an inclusive, positive vision from City Hall based on effective, competently implemented results. Jim Sheppard spent decades as a police officer, serving people, especially young people. That incredible history of public service, combined with his experience as Chief, effectively managing serious issues such as Occupy Rochester with minimal arrests, as well as his vision for a positive, inclusive, capable government that motivates all people to participate and grow this city, is exactly what Rochester needs. Rochestarians still feel significant economic anxiety, racial tensions are far too high, police-community relations are more strained than ever, and the local political rhetoric from certain candidates is downright poisonous. We deserve better, and Jim Sheppard offers it.
It's obvious that Lovely Warrens' supporters were far more enthusiastic about their candidate than Tom Richards' supporters were; his simply didn't show up. I think it is doubtful that Richards will continue on the Independence and Working Families lines, but stranger things have happened, and it would be one hell of a race. I hope Alex White and the Green candidates for City Council and School Board get a fair airing before the November election. No candidates should be crowned victors before the votes are cast, as tonights results certainly proved. Lovely Warren and the rest of the incumbents re-elected tonight should face honest questions about their vision for Rochester. The Greens do have an alternate vision, and Rochestarians are not without a choice come November, even if most people think it has already been made for them.
Also, just a note, the Green Party and Occupy are not the same group. There are many devoted and intelligent people active in the Green Party who never set foot at Occupy. The Four Pillars of the Green Party are 1) ecological wisdom , 2) social justice, 3) grassroots democracy , and 4) nonviolence, which to me is not a bad framework to approach public policy. Rochester needs a government that is inclusive, invigorating, focused on the entire fabric of our community. We have too much potential as a community to keep limping along like this. We need to give people a real stake in their neighborhoods, a real voice at the table, and empower them to help drive this city forward, which is what the Green Party puts on the table.
Our current budget situation is pretty dire, we are at the point of closing down libraries and recreation centers, delaying critical infrastructure projects, and cutting community and youth services. I would say that asking whether the amazingly low property values these deals grant and the low taxes they allow businesses to pay is good for Rochester is a perfectly fair question. I don't disagree that we should encourage businesses to grow in Rochester, but at what cost? How many jobs is a recreation center for at risk inner city youth worth? 10? 50? 200? We're talking two issues, the taxes these deals set and the assessments granted, and I don't think it is unreasonable to ask that Rochester businesses deal with a higher level on both of those scores so that we don't pass all of the pain of our budget crisis to the residents who live here. Having a serious conversation about the budget and not talking about the tax breaks and property assessments for major development deals is unproductive and shortsighted. Tom Richards and Lovely Warren won't even talk about this issue, and Alex White is making a valid argument. Maybe Rochester simply cannot afford these deals at the levels we have been granting them, we are simply passing on too much pain to the people who live here, we're at risk of slashing the social fabric of Rochester in this budget season, and I think we need to change our priorities to benefit everyone in Rochester and not just the businesses that operate here. I think everyone would agree that Rochester needs a new economic vision, and 40 years of one party Democratic rule hasn't brought it.
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