By Shannon Roxborough
On Sunday, April 11, Rochester’s mayor Lovely Warren sat down in WRFZ (106.3 FM) studios on “ROC Master Class: The Hot Seat,” the new radio talk show featuring local leaders and changemakers, where she fielded questions from host Tunya Griffin, co-host Lavonne Richards Jr. and special guest Tamara MacDuff, host of ROC Voices.
Here’s audio of the interview in its entirety:
The pandemic has reshaped Rochester, and with Mayor Warren facing a primary challenge from City Councilman Malik Evans in the 2021 mayoral race, economic, health and social justice challenges have cast a long shadow over the future of the city.
Can our embattled incumbent mayor, who seems to be in such peril — a woman whose political fortunes are tied to charges related to campaign finance violations and who has been forced to fend off questions surrounding her handling of Daniel Prude’s unfortunate death — waltz to a third term?
The answer is a resounding yes.
Warren, first elected in 2013, the first female and second African-American mayor of Rochester, is no stranger to criticism or adversity. Since taking office, she has been a regular target of her political rivals, who have made crime, societal problems and lack of public trust a centerpiece of their attacks against her.
Now, with the city having been transformed by the coronavirus, the social climate altered by ongoing Black Lives Matter protests last year and current efforts to vaccinate members of the community against the virus and restart the city’s economic engine, Mayor Warren has her hands full.
Her greatest challenge may be reinforcing her image as a capable leader and persuading voters — from struggling city residents to the uncertain business community — that she is still the best person to lead the city out of the pandemic and into a brighter future.
Mayor Warren, despite a legion of vocal critics, has the backing of the City Democratic Committee and remains a heavy favorite to win a third term. But if reelected, she will face enormous challenges in guiding the city out of the pandemic, and battling an economic crisis that has ravaged the city’s finances and left 7.1 percent of its residents out of work, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
With with an obvious passion for helping people in need — and a deep understanding of the realities confronting Black, brown and low-income city residents — Mayor Warren is determined to move Rochester in a positive direction, build better community service, strengthen municipal management and increase transparency and accountability.
Even in an environment clouded by legal uncertainties and a complex social-political climate, the mayor’s supporters offer her chorus of critics a message: She has been written off before.
So, don’t count her out, Rochester.
Shannon Roxborough, Black Women’s Voices Chief Content and Creative Officer, has been a freelance writer and journalist for more than 30 years, with his writing, commentary and research published in GQ, Money, Barron’s and The New York Times, among many others.