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Malik Evans elected mayor of Rochester 

click to enlarge Malik Evans speaks to supporters at the Hyatt Regency Rochester after being elected mayor on Nov. 2, 2021.

PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE

Malik Evans speaks to supporters at the Hyatt Regency Rochester after being elected mayor on Nov. 2, 2021.

Malik Delany Evans, a minister’s son whose quest to be a player in politics locally and beyond was a childhood ambition, was elected mayor of Rochester on Tuesday.

The election of Evans, 41, had ostensibly been a foregone conclusion since June, when he captured the Democratic nomination by soundly defeating incumbent Lovely Warren in that party’s primary.

With no Republican challenger, and Warren without the backing of a third party to stay on the ballot, Evans ran uncontested in the general election on the Democratic and Working Families party lines.

He captured roughly 99 percent of the vote in unofficial results released by the Monroe County Board of Elections with all election districts reporting.

“This is not about me, but about the future of all of us and the future of greater Rochester," he told supporters at the Hyatt Regency Rochester. "Regardless of what ZIP code you might live in, regardless of what town you might live in, I believe it is our responsibility to make sure that we take care of those that have gone to the polls and voted and those who may have not.



"We are going to work to build bridges across every single neighborhood, every single town, in order to make Rochester a great place for all of us.”


Evans, a City Council member and banker, marched to a lopsided win over Warren in the primary against a backdrop of civic trauma, escalating crime, and deep anxiety among voters about Rochester’s reputation on the statewide and national stages.

Democratic voters embraced his message of restoring transparency and “building bridges” at City Hall, while Warren’s campaign for a third term imploded amid a public crisis of confidence in her administration and dueling criminal indictments against her.

Warren settled both her criminal cases, in part by accepting a plea deal in which she agreed to resign her office by Dec. 1. Her deputy mayor, James Smith, is expected to fill out the remainder of her term as acting mayor, as per the succession of the office determined by the City Charter."

Despite the inevitable outcome at the polls, Evans brushed aside any notion that his election was anticlimactic, saying that he and his team have been working around-the-clock since the primary to build his administration.

“We’re preparing an administration, and although that stuff doesn’t make a lot of the headlines, that’s what we’ve really been spending the time with,” Evans said. “So for me and the staff it’s absolutely not anticlimactic.”

RELATED: Everything you ever wanted to know about Malik Evans

click to enlarge Malik Evans, Rochester's presumptive mayor-elect, called whoever vandalized the Douglass statue "an idiot" during the reinstallation event on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. - PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
  • PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
  • Malik Evans, Rochester's presumptive mayor-elect, called whoever vandalized the Douglass statue "an idiot" during the reinstallation event on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021.
Speaking to reporters after casting his vote earlier in the day, Evans said he has been reading, researching, and thinking about the future of Rochester as he assembles his cabinet, which he acknowledged remained incomplete.

He said he would spend part of Election Day calling supporters to thank them and contacting people he was hoping to draw into his administration.

“The future I envision is one where we build a bridge to the future of Rochester where we really try to take Rochester to the next level, where we are proud to say that we accomplished great things in Rochester, where violence is something in the rear view mirror, and that we have a city where my kids, where my son, who I brought to vote today, are proud of,” Evans said.

CASTING A ‘BITTERSWEET’ BALLOT

Evans cast his ballot at 6:30 a.m. at the Rochester Academy of Medicine on East Avenue with his 10-year-old son, Cameron, in tow, expressing hope for the future but calling the day “bittersweet.”

It was the first Election Day in which Evans was on a ballot and without his father and political mentor, Lawrance Lee Evans Sr., who died in 2018 and would have turned 76 years old Tuesday.

click to enlarge Malik's father Lawrance Lee Evans Sr. had a tremendous influence on his son's life trajectory. - PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • Malik's father Lawrance Lee Evans Sr. had a tremendous influence on his son's life trajectory.
“Today is Nov. 2, it would have been my dad’s birthday,” Evans said. “My father has been involved with every single general election I’ve had. So it’s almost bittersweet and ironic that the election falls on the first general election that he’s not here with me.”

Evans grew up in a home on Hamilton Street in the South Wedge that doubled as a church of something called “Doology,” a faith Evans’ father had created as a teenager on the premise that doing something to improve the problems in one’s community was preferable to sitting around and complaining about them.

Lawrance Evans founded the First Community Interfaith Institute in 1970, a decade before Malik was born, and ran services out of the family home for decades. The place was part house of worship, part think tank, and a revolving door of prayer, education, and activism.

When he was born, Evans was given the middle name of “Delany,” after Martin Delany, the abolitionist, journalist, and medical practitioner, who helped Frederick Douglass launch the North Star newspaper and was one of the first three Black men admitted to Harvard Medical School. All three were reportedly dismissed after a few weeks when the school bowed to protests by white students.

Evans became engaged in public service early. In high school he founded the City/County Youth Council, a panel that advised elected officials on issues confronting young people and later became Youth Voice, One Vision.

When he graduated from Wilson Magnet High School, he wrote in his yearbook, “I will be the president of the United States and get things done for America.”

click to enlarge Malik Evans had political ambitions from a young age. - PROVIDED
  • PROVIDED
  • Malik Evans had political ambitions from a young age.
At 23, Evans became the youngest person elected to the Rochester Board of Education, and eventually became its youngest president. He stepped down from the board halfway through his fourth term after winning the Democratic primary for City Council in 2017.

Before joining Democrats at the Hyatt Regency to celebrate his victory, he said, he stopped by Riverside Cemetery to visit his father’s grave on his birthday.

With reporting by CITY staff writer Gino Fanelli.

David Andreatta is CITY's editor. He can be reached at dandreatta@rochester-citynews.com.
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