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Our City Council endorsements

CITY did its usual due diligence in examining a wide crowd of City Council candidates. Then you erred in reaching a dramatic conclusion: endorsing three strong new candidates and praising but omitting two great veterans of Rochester life.

The first omission, Malik Evans, has been a Rochester leader since he was a teenager at Wilson Magnet High School. His school board colleagues chose him as president for an unprecedented three consecutive terms: tough duty on an often fractious board with superintendents of different talents and personal agendas.

Still young, Evans would be the only parent of school-aged children on the Council. No wonder his platform emphasizes coordinating Council programs with the needs of our youth. As a banker, he is also strong on small business issues, his specialty at ESL.

Likewise, Dana Miller has been a low-key community leader for decades – from Jefferson/Madison High School to the 19th Ward to business to the Community Foundation. I recall his sage work in negotiating the closing of the old Arnett YMCA, assuring that an unoccupied building would not become a vacant eyesore. For 18 years now, six families have lived in the homes built on that property. He also helped facilitate a long-term financial commitment to the 19th Ward Association at the Community Foundation. He is usually behind the scenes when good things are happening.

So, yes: Mitch Gruber, Mary Lupien, and Matt Juda are strong new voices, and Jackie Ortiz and Loretta Johnson are great sitting Council people. A wise, measured stance for CITY would have been to cite these top seven candidates and encourage Democrats to choose carefully from among them.


I usually agree with and appreciate your endorsements for elected office, but I can't fathom your failure to endorse Malik Evans for Rochester City Council.

I am not involved in his campaign except to have supported it with a modest financial gift, but I have followed his career since he was a teenager. Years ago, while he was in high school, I brought him in as a speaker to the Rochester Grantmakers Forum, the only teen ever to address the group. He wowed the group, and was so impressive in his thoughtfulness and dedication to strengthening Rochester that I have kept my eyes on him ever since.

After growing up in the city, he could have attended any university and gotten a job anywhere he chose, and yet he remained here, going to the U of R and getting a job in banking with ESL, because of his devotion to our community. His combination of youthfulness, expertise, prior experience in public service, integrity, and wisdom make him a perfect candidate to help move our city forward.

I urge readers to learn more about him and vote for him.


Statues' purpose

I've been thinking a lot about Civil War monuments. Flying Confederate flags or allowing Southern Civil War statues to rule town squares reminds us of the degrading status held in this country for its minority population. But this is part of our history, even though much of that tale is far from pretty. So "out of sight, out of mind?" Do we remove it all from the public domain? And by doing that are we succeeding in whitewashing this national blemish?

The problem is that today these symbols represent new dimensions of evil. Slavery was an appalling reality, and fighting to defend it was monstrous. But now the symbols of that war are overlaid with those from another modern war. No longer hitched only to slavery, they stand again for extermination of all religious and minority groups. No civilized nation can tolerate that.

But what about the northern monuments to that same war? Do we let those stay? What about General Sherman, an unnecessarily vicious tyrant but one who fought on the "winning side"? General Grant? Why must they be left in place if the Civil War itself was a black era in US history?

In defense of the Robert E. Lee statues, someone said to me recently, "Many families lost loved ones in that war. Many Americans died bravely fighting for their cause. They should be remembered." I suppose the same thing applies to all war monuments.

I don't believe any war deserves that monumental glitter, the promise tacitly made by civic and political leaders to "always remember the war dead" as some kind of reward in perpetuity. Civic monuments should be erected for super achievement in advancing human understanding of our universe and our role in it, for advancing the common good.

And by the way, how many monuments of females have you seen? Where's a statue of Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress – before she could even vote –Marie Curie, Rosa Parks, Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space? For that matter, Alan Shepard, the first American in space?

These are the people that deserve homage. War dead deserve to be mourned. That's what cemeteries are for.


Build more, not less

It feels as though Rochesterians swallowed the notion, at some point, that cities are inherently terrible. As a result, we keep trying to "improve" the city by making it more like a suburb: more grass! More parking! Lower-density zoning! 

We need more businesses, homes, industry – places to go and things to do and reasons and support for people to live and work here. We need fewer empty lots, and a park on Parcel 5 or the Loop will just be another (nicely landscaped) empty lot.

Cities can be wonderful. Build something wonderful on Parcel 5.