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Wilt withdraws from Assembly race


Brighton Town Board member Robin Wilt withdrew from the 136th Assembly District race Friday afternoon.  The reason, she said, is that there's still work to do in the town, particularly when it comes to issues of race, diversity, and equity.

Wilt's brief Assembly campaign, which began soon after she lost the Democratic primary for the late Louise Slaughter's Congressional seat, wasn't without rough patches. She faced a lawsuit challenging whether she met the residency requirements for an Assembly candidate, which she dismissed as a factor in her decision.

And earlier Friday,  some media outlets reported that Wilt's campaign manager, Wynette Vickers, was convicted of mail fraud and identity theft in 2011 and sentenced to prison. "I think that people who have served their debts to society deserve full reentry into our society," Wilt told media including WHEC and the Democrat and Chronicle.

Following her remarks late Friday afternoon in the gazebo at Twelve Corners in Brighton, she said the revelations about Vickers weren't a factor.

Wilt said she's withdrawing from the Assembly race because she can't abandon Brighton in a time of racial discord. As a Town Board member, Wilt led the creation of the Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Advisory Committee, and during her remarks Friday afternoon, she said she wants to work with the committee.

She referred to her history as an activist, which she has said is what fueled her decision to enter politics and government. And, she said, at the last Brighton Town Board meeting she got a reminder of why she entered public service. Keniyah Vickers, the daughter of Wilt's campaign manager, Wynette Vickers, talked to the Town Board about inequity and inequality in the Brighton schools, and how she and other black students have been treated unfairly, according to media reports.

"We have work to do at home," Wilt said.

Wilt delivered an impassioned speech that started by touching on her upbringing as the daughter of immigrants, and she talked about her father's repeated advice to his daughters that they'd have to be three times as good as their white counterparts to achieve half the recognition. He had noted that as black people, the family faced structural barriers, Wilt said.

She moved on to her run for the 136th Assembly District seat. She and her supporters began the campaign knowing it'd be difficult, she said; they were entering late, and there were administrative hurdles. The campaign was first marginalized and ridiculed, then underestimated, then treated as a threat, she said.

"We knew that our movement was strong, that our cause remained just, that we would win," she said.

And she referenced how black women have been fighting for their families and for their fair share since "time immemorial." As she campaigned, she got caught up in some bigger fights, but Keniyah Vickers' remarks reminded her of why she got into public service in the first place. And Wilt said she believes she has an important role to play as the sole person of color on the Brighton Town Board, which is otherwise made up of white men.

Wilt's withdrawal for the race leaves Jamie Romeo, chair of the Monroe County Democratic Committee; Jaclyn Richard, president of the Rochester chapter of the National Organization for Women; and Todd Grady, who works in real estate sales, in the running for the Democratic line on general election ballot. The seat is current held by Joe Morelle, who is seeking election to Congress.

This post has been corrected.