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New year, new City Council 

Rochester City Council started the new year by swearing in some fresh faces Thursday afternoon.

The packed ceremony at City Hall drew several notable Democratic elected officials, including Mayor Lovely Warren, freshly-minted Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, and Assembly member Harry Bronson.

Four of City Council’s nine seats were up for grabs in November and two of them went to candidates who hadn’t previously held elected office. Former city school teacher Mary Lupien won the East District seat, formerly held by Elaine Spaull, who opted to not run for a fourth term. Jose Peo, a mortgage loan officer with Bank of America, won the Northwest District seat, formerly held by first term Council member Molly Clifford, who also opted not to seek re-election.

Lupien recited her oath of office with her daughter, Maya, while Peo recited his oath with former Mayor Bill Johnson. 
click to enlarge City Council member Mary Lupien is sworn in by her daughter, Maya, on January 2, 2020. - PHOTO BY GINO FANELLI
  • PHOTO BY GINO FANELLI
  • City Council member Mary Lupien is sworn in by her daughter, Maya, on January 2, 2020.

Lupien credited her work with the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign for her entrance into politics.

“Four years ago, I never imagined I’d be standing here today, being sworn into City Council for the East District,” Lupien said. “Four years ago, I didn’t know who our City Council members were or what they did. I voted, but I didn’t have faith in the electoral system, or systems of government, until Bernie.”

Peo, an Army veteran and a member of the Northwest District Democrats, said his election was the culmination of years of hard work.

click to enlarge City Council member Jose Peo is sworn in by former Mayor Bill Johnson on January 2, 2020. - PHOTO BY GINO FANELLI
  • PHOTO BY GINO FANELLI
  • City Council member Jose Peo is sworn in by former Mayor Bill Johnson on January 2, 2020.
“Late nights, I envisioned the person I wanted to be,” Peo said. “It did not come easy, and it certainly did not come quickly, but the best things in life never do.”

LaShay Harris, who was initially appointed to City Council to fill a vacancy left by the resignation of Adam McFadden after he pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges in April, was elected to the seat in November. She was sworn in by Warren.

“Victory cannot be achieved alone,” Harris said. “I’m supported by beautiful people like Mayor Lovely Warren, Assemblyman David Gantt, and a whole host of other Democrats.”

Michael Patterson, who has served on City Council since December 2013, was re-elected to his Northeast District seat in November. He was also sworn in Thursday afternoon.
click to enlarge City Council member LaShay Harris at council's swearing-in ceremony on January 2, 2020. - PHOTO BY GINO FANELLI
  • PHOTO BY GINO FANELLI
  • City Council member LaShay Harris at council's swearing-in ceremony on January 2, 2020.

City Council’s leadership will remain the same in 2020. Members re-elected Loretta Scott to her fourth term as president and they re-elected Willie Lightfoot as vice president.
The council members also reappointed Hazel Washington as city clerk.

The first full City Council meeting of the year is on Tuesday, January 21.

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