Battle for Rochester mayor heats up

Posted at: 04/24/2013 6:15 PM
Updated at: 04/24/2013 6:17 PM
By: Ray Levato

Could race be an issue in the mayoral primary fight between City Council President Lovely Warren and current Rochester Mayor Tom Richards? Warren's campaign manager says yes.

The issue started Tuesday when the local democratic committee selected Richards over Warren as the party's nominee. Warren's campaign didn't like the way it happened. They say it shows a disconnect between the party and African-Americans in the city.

Mayor Richards got the party designation even though three city committees haven't voted yet. That's because, according to party chairman Joe Morelle, those committees chose when to hold their votes and Richards already has 52% of the possible total and there weren't enough votes left to change the outcome.

But Warren's campaign manager said this proves there's a disconnect between the city's democratic leaders and the predominantly black neighborhoods in those three districts.

Gaynelle Wethers, Warren's campaign manager, said in a statement, “African American voters are very aware and very sensitive to that fact that in many places throughout this nation,historically and right up to today, there are those who have worked to discourage black voters from participating in the democratic process; and in many places, people have worked to affirmatively suppress the vote.  This lack of understanding, this disconnect, is permeating our city."

News10NBC caught up with both candidates Wednesday afternoon.

Lovely Warren said, “I think what she said was that it was important for all the votes and all the committees to have their voices heard. And I think that's true.”

News10NBC's Ray Levato said, “It almost sounds like you're trying to bring race into this race.”

Warren said, “No, I don't think that at all. I think what my campaign or campaign manager intended was to say that all the votes had not been counted.”

Levato said, “But that doesn't really answer my question.”

Warren said, “And I think that's very fair to say that all votes should be counted in a process that is set up by a party. And all votes have not been counted.”

Mayor Tom Richards said, “This isn't a race that I'm going to run on the basis of race. And I think the best way for me to deal with that kind of thing is to just not respond to it. It's not healthy for us. And there's no city in this country I know of that's been successful that allows this kind of thing to dominate the discourse. I don't know who said what. It's their business. But I'm not going to say that kind of thing.”

The democratic primary is in September.