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Credit: Josh and Kaldari

Want to run for office? The checklist to get started includes recruiting and training volunteers, building a website, opening a bank account, articulating a vision and courting party committee members. That all happens before candidates knock on the first door.

This year’s candidates are well into their campaigns, having invested countless hours of hard work and emotional energy. They’ve dedicated their hearts and souls to serving their communities.

Two women just had the rug pulled out from under their campaigns through no fault of their own.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is to blame.

First, Cuomo appointed Jamie Romeo to the position…


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Back in the fall of 2003, Republican County Clerk Maggie Brooks and Democratic Rochester Mayor Bill Johnson faced off in a contentious campaign for Monroe County Executive. Johnson had been outspoken about the need for metro government, even metro schools. Johnson devoted much of a State of the City address to the issue.

Late in the race, the GOP dropped what is known as the most infamous political ad in recent history. I have to recreate it from memory because there doesn’t seem to be a copy floating around the internet. The TV ad featured a map of Monroe County…


A well-intentioned vision statement claimed to target housing equity, but fell short.

Kevin Beckford is the first African American on the Pittsford Town Board and has spent his time raising awareness about racism and privilege in the county’s most affluent — and mostly white — suburb. He is part of the PittsForward group, which is pushing important conversations about diversity and inclusion.

Beckford misses the mark, however, on his recent amendments to the town’s comprehensive plan. His amendments would:

“Allow for socioeconomic diversification (suited for incomes levels $45K-$90K) of home types and prices within each development project; i.e. apartment, condo…


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City of Rochester Communications Bureau

The response from City of Rochester officials to the arrest of Bob Morgan is incredibly tone deaf and detached from reality.

City spokesman Justin Roj told the media, “The City is, of course, concerned regarding the ongoing projects related to Mr. Morgan, and will continue to make sure he meets his obligations to our taxpayers. However, Rochester is poised for growth and has a robust development community.”

First, here’s the cold reality. Rochester taxpayers will probably not be paid back. Morgan is accused of a $500 million mortgage fraud scheme, one of the largest real estate frauds in U.S. history…


The City of Rochester’s new comprehensive plan cites a housing market study as a resource. The study was performed in 2018 by czb, LLC. (Read it here.)

The main findings won’t come as a big surprise. Here are some highlights:

  • The Rochester and Monroe County housing market is soft — there is more supply than demand. Poverty is concentrated in the city, leading to disinvestment and low demand. For example, while 28 percent of Monroe County households are in the city, the city has only a 17 percent share of households earning $50,000 or more. …


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We don’t blame the mayor for poverty, so why do we blame the school board?

The Rochester City School District is the worst in the state. It’s also the district with the highest concentration of children who live in poverty. The research is clear: poverty impacts educational outcomes.

Mayor Lovely Warren says poverty is no excuse. Poor children can learn. Black children can learn. We must do something.

She’s right.

We must solve poverty.

No one has been able to figure out how to solve poverty. …


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City of Rochester Communications Bureau

Census data out today shows Monroe County is not growing. Our population went up only 38 people last year — the statistical equivalent to zero percent.

In fact, we’re losing people to other areas of the U.S. A net total of 3,472 people moved away in 2018. Those who move out are replaced by new babies and immigrants. (When we hear anti-immigration rhetoric, remember that our population would be in a freefall without them.)

People leave for any number of reasons, but lack of opportunity surely played a role. A Democrat and Chronicle survey found that’s something most of agree…


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When a celebrity chef announced plans to open a restaurant in Rochester, I warned the public that it would likely get taxpayer help. That’s because the city and county have a history of assisting such ventures. The city’s grants and loans are awarded largely in secret.

Redd will get property and sales tax breaks from the county’s industrial development agency, COMIDA. Another notable COMIDA restaurant deal involved Greece Ridge Mall. I have long argued that restaurants are not economic development. New restaurants don’t create new wealth. They shift our spending habits from old restaurants to new ones. …


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CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45997

When I was a kid, my grandmother and I often hopped the bus to go to the Midtown Wegmans. That store closed in 1995, leaving downtown residents and people dependent on public transit without an easily- accessible central supermarket.

We haven’t had an affordable grocery store downtown since. I don’t think we will anytime soon.

Hart’s Local Grocers, despite promises to cater to poor people, was a glorified café and specialty and convenience store with much higher prices for basic food items. It was out of scale for the way customers used the store.

I once asked a Wegmans spokesperson…


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The first night of petitioning

I didn’t want to take another step. Even though I was wearing wool socks and fur-lined boots, my feet stung from the cold. My hands were so numb, I had trouble writing. My pen was frozen, anyway. The falling snow smeared my pages. The clipboard barely held the papers from the wind. There wasn’t another soul in sight. I had been knocking on doors for only an hour, but the sun was setting. It was 16 degrees.

Welcome to petitioning in 2019!

Before we talk about why this year is different, let’s go through the petitioning process. Candidates from the…

Rachel Barnhart

Monroe County Legislator, LD21. Dem. Journalism. Politics. Ethics. Transparency. Accountability. Equality. Justice. Twitter: @rachbarnhart

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