Nine candidates for Rochester City Council met in the Interfaith Chapel for a forum attended by community members and UR students on Monday.
“It is great to have such willing candidates,” member of Students for Liberty and senior Eric Miller said. “They readily gave up their business time to be here.”
In all, 17 candidates are running for five at-large seats. The forum, sponsored by the Political Science Department, Students for Liberty, Students for Social Justice and the College Democrats, addressed a variety of issues currently facing the city of Rochester, from drug enforcement to curfew laws.
The candidates that attended were Carolee Conklin (D), Harry Davis (Red White and Blue), Christopher Edes (Red White and Blue), Max Kessler (Red White and Blue), John Lightfoot (D), Dana Miller (D), William Pritchard (D), Gladys Santiago (D) and Yusuf Sharif (World Citizens).
Miller brought up his 20 years of work “on revitalizing the area on the other side of the Pedestrian Bridge.” Miller, an integral part of the Brooks Landing development, hopes to add university offices and a “community-owned, community-run coffee shop” to the area.
Pritchard offered a realistic perspective on local government.
“The fact of the matter is that council deals with the big and the small,” Pritchard said. “More often than not, the small. We are the ones left to pick up the pieces after federal cuts.”
He added that city government is responsible for important quality of life issues, ranging from garbage collection to lead reduction programs.
Sharif offered advice to the crowd. “Get a copy of the city budget – it’s very, very important,” Sharif said. “If you want to see what’s going on, pick up a copy.”
The candidates from the Red White and Blue Party, stressed their support for ending the enforcement of drug laws as a way to lessen violent crime. Others suggested cracking down on drug trafficking through enforcement of loitering laws which empower the police to remove people standing around on the streets.
Some suggested enforcing loitering laws rather than curfew, which are currently enforced as a crime reduction measure.
“The curfew law is only a band-aid approach to the City’s problems,” Sharif said.
Despite nine candidates attending the forum, the entire political spectrum was not represented.
“I was hoping a Republican candidate would show up to make for a spicier debate,” Students for Liberty member and sophomore Danelle McGinnis said.
Sherry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.