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Greens take aim at tax incentives 


The Green Party of Monroe County is fielding three candidates for the five open seats on Rochester City Council. David Atias, Drew Langdon, and Dorothy Paige will face Council incumbents Carolee Conklin, Dana Miller, Jackie Ortiz, Matt Haag, and Loretta Scott (all Democrats) in the November 5 general election, as well as Working Families candidate Marlowe Washington.

Washington also sought the endorsement of the Democratic Party, but lost to the incumbents in the September primary.

The Green Party's candidates have a common message: they want to stop government from giving tax breaks and other incentives to big-ticket developers. They say it's unfair, and that the city could use those millions of dollars to begin addressing child poverty, the underperformance of the Rochester school district, vacant housing, and Rochester's many additional persistent problems.

Profiles of the Green Party's Council candidates are below. Profiles of the five incumbents and Washington ran in the August 21 issue.

Dorothy Paige

Dorothy Paige has worked extensively with the underprivileged in Rochester, so her concern for them comes from an authentic place.

Paige, who was born in New York City, has spent much of her adult life working with the disadvantaged, particularly the homeless. She spent two years working in an overnight shelter in the South Wedge through AmeriCorps. Paige also worked with homeless women at the YMCA, homeless children at the Center for Youth, and for a federally funded job training program for senior citizens.

Paige, who lives in the Dutchtown neighborhood in northeast Rochester, is currently unemployed and has spent two years looking for work.

"My unemployment ran out, so I'm living on my savings," she says.

If the city or the county Industrial Development Agency is going to give incentives to developers, Paige says, they need to make sure that they get something equal out of the deal.

"We just give away too much stuff," she says. "It's really unbalanced."

Another issue: vacant properties. City officials aren't doing enough, Paige says, to rein in absentee landlords. The city should be able to take properties from negligent landlords, she says, and then work with nonprofits to rehab the houses to increase home ownership in troubled areas of the city.

Paige also talks about the need for more job training programs for city residents, and for developers to provide job training and jobs for city residents in greater numbers.

David Atias

David Atias is a local activist, longtime member of the Green Party, and has twice run for Rochester school board. A former teacher, he is currently the assistant director of advocacy for the Center for Disability Rights.

City officials like to trumpet the investments they make in Rochester's neighborhoods, Atias says, but much of that is for roads and other infrastructure. The city should invest in locally owned businesses, he says, which can serve as the nucleus for a neighborhood's rebirth.

Rochester needs jobs less than it does wealth creation, Atias says. The city's many empty lots can be converted into for-profit urban farms, he says, and attendant businesses will spring up to support and serve the farms. And the assets would stay in the community, Atias says.

Atias also talks about exploring single payer health care coverage for city residents, and creating a municipal energy company as a way to attract business.

City residents have been hearing only one party's ideas — Democrats — for too long, Atias says, and it's time to bring diversity to city governance.

"There needs to be different kinds of dialogue," he says. "Lots of people don't believe in the direction we're going."

Citing tensions between police and the African-American community, Atias says that Police Chief James Sheppard needs to be replaced. And he says that the city needs a fully independent review board to ensure police accountability.

Drew Langdon

Drew Langdon works in sales and merchandising for Lord & Taylor in Eastview Mall, but says that's just to pay the bills. His main occupation, he says, is activism.

Langdon participated in statewide campaigns for marriage equality and the passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, and he's a founder of the Rochester Organization for Workplace Democracy. The latter promotes an alternate form of economics where the workers own the company, Langdon says.

"No fat bonuses for failing CEO's," he says.

Langdon formerly ran for State Assembly against powerhouse incumbent David Gantt, a Democrat.

Langdon opposes the incentives awarded to developers who "only create minimal jobs." He advocates for locally owned cooperatives to build wealth and create opportunities.

"The big-business model is all about profit and enriching the few," he says.

Langdon says he pushed to convert the men's clothing store Hickey Freeman into a cooperative before it was sold earlier this year.

Langdon also says that the city needs a level of government that's closer to the people than City Council. Council members' territories are too vast, he says, and constituents have limited access to their representatives. Neighborhoods or quadrants could have their own councils, he says, that control everything from speed limits to zoning.

Langdon also calls for citizens to have more influence into the city's budgeting process.

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