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Dems designate their candidates

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The Monroe County Democratic Committee's annual designating convention was more celebration than spat.

The whole thing led off with the installment of Lovely Warren as the party's mayoral candidate; Warren is, of course, the sitting mayor. She pulled in about 55.6 percent of the weighted vote from the party's city legislative district committees, far more than her opponents James Sheppard (38.7 percent) and Rachel Barnhart (5 percent). Warren will likely face primary challenges from both of the other candidates.

Warren had the designation locked up before convention day, so did candidates in several of the other races. Up in the air was a City Council seat and two city school board seats.  Incumbents Loretta Scott, Jackie Ortiz, and Dana Miller, as well as school board member Malik Evans and teacher Matt Juda ultimate received the Council designations. Incumbent Van White, as well as newcomers Beatriz LeBron and Natalie Sheppard, received the school board designations.

Warren gave an acceptance speech that was, at various points, a checklist of her accomplishments, a promise to help build up the party, a pledge to work for the city's people, and a blistering call to action against the Trump White House  and the Republican Congress. And she did it all to loud cheers; one guy proclaimed, "That's what I'm talking about," when Warren said Rochester is a city worth fighting for.

"I would be the first to admit that we're not where we want to be," Warren told the crowd. "But we're in a better place than we were four years ago."

Warren also used her time at the podium to throw her support to sheriff candidate Todd Baxter, the former Greece police chief and Veterans Outreach Center leader whom Democrats designated as their candidate tonight. He'll face sitting Republican Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn.

The main events were the City Council and city school board designations. Each slate required two rounds of voting, since not enough candidates received 50 percent of the weighted committee votes in the first round.

Four candidates made it through the first round of City Council designations: incumbents Loretta Scott, Jackie Ortiz, and Dana Miller, as well as school board member Malik Evans. Prior to the convention, there had been some controversy around the remaining designation.

In a crowded field, former County Legislator Willie Joe Lightfoot had received the fifth-highest vote totals, and teacher Matt Juda received the sixth highest. But to get the designation, a candidate has to break the 50 percent mark, a situation Lightfoot believed unfair even though the Dems have operated this way for as long as anyone can remember. On the second round of voting, the legislative district committee leaders picked Juda, who had support among key LGBTQ party members. Juda pulled in about 64 percent of the leaders votes during the second round.

None of that tension, however, was on open display tonight.

Beatriz LaBron was the only school board candidate to make it through on the first round of voting. Van White and Natalie Sheppard  made it through on the second round, leaving incumbent Cynthia Elliott without the party's designation.

East Rochester, Brighton, and Pittsford Democrats also designated former East Rochester schools superintendent Howard Maffucci for the  County Legislature District 10 race. He'll face Republican Jason Rosenberg, a University of Rochester professional staffer and a small business owner. The seat is currently held by Republican Anthony Daniele, who has to give it up at the end of the year due to term limits.

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