- PHOTO BY MAX SCHULTE
- Reverend Lewis Stewart.
Flanked by clergy and members of the United Christian Leadership Ministry, Reverend Lewis Stewart said Thursday that the community can't afford to have Democrats fighting among themselves.
Two factions of the party have spent much of 2020 in conflict, over a series of issues including who should be the minority leader and who should run the Democratic side of the county Board of Elections. In August, several members formed a splinter group called the Black and Asian Caucus.
Stewart offered to mediate the dispute.
"While you are fighting, the people are watching and becoming discouraged," said Stewart. "The people need the Democratic Party to come together and work on our behalf."
He said he has not spoken to anyone involved in the conflict but he expects to in the coming weeks.
Stewart also expressed support for Mayor Lovely Warren's re-election campaign. Warren has faced calls for her resignation amid investigations into the death of Daniel Prude, which has also sparked numerous protests in recent months.
Police body camera footage released last month showed Prude suffocating in Rochester Police custody in March. He died a week later. Warren was also indicted on felony campaign finance charges earlier this month.
Stewart said he’s talked and prayed with Warren and concluded that she's the best person to take Rochester forward, while calling the prosecution "a political machination."
"She wants to go forward in doing great things for this city and we're going to move right along with her," said Stewart. "People are attempting to undermine her and what she has done. So we're gonna make sure that we stand beside her and be her shield."
Stewart said the voters should determine Warren's future at the ballot box. The mayoral primary is in June; her next court date is in January.
James Brown is a reporter for WXXI News, a media partner of CITY. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.