Last night's meeting of the Monroe County Democratic Committee was a relatively tame affair, serving mostly as a coronation for the candidates chosen by local legislative district committees.
The sole exception was a three-way contest for a City Court seat nomination, which required two rounds of voting. For candidates to get the party's backing at the convention, they have to receive 50 percent of the vote, which is weighted by committee. City Court candidate William Gargan, who serves as chief of the Domestic Violence Bureau in the District Attorney's Office, received 53.2 percent of the votes after the second round.
During the first round, the legislative district leaders are simply supposed to report how their committee members had previously voted. But the 22nd and 25th Legislative District committees didn't vote for any candidates in the City Court race. In the second round, both backed Gargan. Representatives from the two committees gave different reasons why their groups abstained during the first round.
Ronnie Thomas, a 22nd District representative, said most of the committee's members only first heard from the three candidates during the committee's nominating meeting earlier this month.
"I think people were not sure about who they wanted to vote for," Thomas said. Delaying gave them time to learn about the potential nominees, he said.
The 25th and 22nd committee members are predominantly African American. And Calvin Lee, the 25th District leader, says his committee wanted to make sure the county committee as a whole doesn't take the African-American committee members' votes for granted. They put in a lot of work on the party's behalf and don't always see a return on that effort, he said.
In other races, MCDC endorsed:
• Mike Patterson for the Northeast District seat on City Council. Patterson received approximately 66 percent of the votes while his challenger, Eugenio Cotto, received 31 percent;
• Leslie Rivera for the 29th District seat in the County Legislature. The seat covers some of the city's northeast neighborhoods;
• Erik Nixon for the 18th District seat in the County Legislature. The seat covers parts of East Rochester and Perinton;
• Ted O'Brien for the 55th District seat in the State Senate;
• Harry Bronson for the 138th District seat in the State Assembly;
• David Gantt for the 137th District seat in the State Assembly;
• Joe Morelle for the 136th District seat in the State Assembly;
• Gary Pudup for the 134th District seat in the State Assembly.
The convention was also Joe Morelle's last as party chair, and he made some brief remarks at the start of the meeting. He stressed the importance of party members working together to support this year's candidates. But he also said that, when he took over as chair, he wanted to see Democrats become more viable so county voters could participate in a true two-party system. You could argue that Democrats made little, if any, progress on that end.
Still, Morelle said, the party has done an amazing job.