This year's campaign for county executive is a crucial one. Monroe County is faced with major budget problems, a weak economy, loss of manufacturing jobs, small population growth, and a decline in the population of young adults.
Because current County Executive Jack Doyle decided not to seek reelection, on November 4 voters will be choosing between two candidates who promise change. Those candidates --- Republican Maggie Brooks and Democrat Bill Johnson --- could hardly be more different.
Brooks is a former television personality and county legislator and is currently county clerk. She is portraying herself as a kinder, gentler Republican who will work with businesses, community members, and higher education to move the community forward. She is pledging a top-to-bottom review of county government and an aggressive streamlining program to save money. She will not, she says, raise property taxes or cut services.
Johnson, mayor of the city of Rochester and former head of the Rochester Urban League, has a "no bull" reputation. He is an advocate of regionalism and smart growth, and Republicans have charged that he favors merging towns, villages, and the city into a metropolitan government and merging city and suburban school districts. Johnson denies both, but says he wants the county to study possible areas of service and structural consolidation. He has focused much of his campaign on the county's financial problems.
In recent interviews, Brooks and Johnson discussed their assessment of the county's challenges and their own vision and plans. The following is an edited version of those interviews.Read more about "The great race" in the News Articles section here