Rochester City Council
Council's five incumbents – Carolee Conklin, Matt Haag, Dana Miller, Jackie Ortiz, and Loretta Scott – won the September Democratic Party primary for their at-large seats. In the November 5 general election, they face Marlowe Washington on the Working Families line and three Green Party candidates: David Atias, Andrew Langdon, and Dorothy Paige.
Ortiz and Haag also have the Working Families line, and all five of the incumbents are listed on the Independence line. No other third-party candidates or Republicans are running.
Atias and Langdon are good candidates, and they have an important activist role to play pushing some of the Greens' stronger positions. But both, like Paige, have a narrow, fairly simplistic view of government and its challenges, and Paige lacks the knowledge to serve in this important position.
Washington has important ideas, including creating zones of distressed neighborhoods and singling them out for intense public-private investment. But he hasn't made the case for unseating any of the incumbents.
The five incumbents have broad experience, both on City Council and in their careers. They bring expertise in finance, technology, and public service, and they represent a broad urban constituency. With a new mayor likely taking office in January, their experience on Council will be invaluable.
Rochester school board
Eight candidates are on the November 5 general election ballot for the three open school board seats. All three incumbents – Jose Cruz, Cynthia Elliott, and Van White – are running for another term on the Democratic Party line. Cruz and White are also running on the Independence and Working Families lines.
The other four on the ballot: Green Party candidate Lori Thomas; Republican Mia Hodgins; Candice Lucas, on the Independence and Working Families lines; and Howard Eagle and Ronald Hall on the Freedom line.
As we did for the Democratic primary, we endorse Cruz, White, and Lucas.
The school district's challenges are enormous, and its options for improvement are limited, given the poverty in which most of its students live. That doesn't mean teachers and administrators can't improve; they can and must. But their effectiveness and morale are under almost constant siege as officials at the district, state, and federal level come up with one initiative, change, and demand after another.
A high-quality school board is crucial, and the current one isn't as strong as it should be. But the board isn't the reason Rochester's children aren't doing better in school. Every one of the board's seven members is intensely committed to those children and the schools that serve them.
Jose Cruz and Van White have played valuable roles on the board and deserve to be re-elected. Cynthia Elliott is one of the community's strongest advocates for Rochester children. And she has toned down the harshness and combativeness she was known for in her first years on the school board. But our endorsement for the third seat goes to Candice Lucas, who lost her primary bid but is continuing to campaign on the third-party lines.
Lucas has served as president of the district's parent council, advocating for increased parent engagement and working both with parents and guardians and with district personnel. That experience has given her valuable knowledge of the district, its finances and operations, and its challenges.
Mia Hodgins and Ronald Hall are well intentioned but don't have the strength and insight necessary for the board. Lori Thomas and Howard Eagle are knowledgeable and dedicated, but their combative style – for which neither apologizes – would cause serious problems on the school board.