Mayor Robert Duffy delivered his first address State of the City on Monday in Strong Auditorium, offering highlights from his first 100 days in office and beginning to outline his plan for the rest of his tenure in office. Over 200 people were in attendance, including members of the City Council, the police and fire chief, UR President Joel Seligman, students and other guests.
“This is a journey of a thousand steps, and in the past 100 days we’ve started this journey together,” Duffy said. “The way we will succeed is one step at a time.”
Duffy’s main topic of discussion was his “One City” initiative to unify services, police and citizens throughout the city. In his first 100 days, Duffy established a checklist of milestones in four distinct areas needing improvement – public safety, economic development, education and customer service.
Duffy’s goals in the realm of public safety included retaining a new police chief and increasing the number and visibility of police officers on the street. As a former Rochester police chief, Duffy is focused on public safety, which was evidenced by a show of Rochester Police Department equipment at the speech including two mounted officers.
“We promised to begin the tough work of making our streets safe, without apology,” Duffy said. “That means bolstering our ranks in the police force and making our police more visible and present in downtown and in our neighborhoods. It means protecting our citizens and protecting our businesses.”
In the sphere of education, Duffy indicated that he has begun to follow through on his campaign promise to increase literacy in the Rochester public school system. In addition, he said that the system has become more adept at handling absent students. “We’re finding children who are not in school, who are truant,” Duffy said. “We’re taking them back to school.”
Perhaps the most controversial decision of Duffy’s term in office was his call to shut down the city-owned Fast Ferry. After last year’s purchase of the ferry, the city has invested over 40 million dollars in the project, with little to no success. The ferry has been idle for months.
“The more I looked at the numbers, the clearer the choice became,” Duffy said. “We simply could not risk losing millions more of tax dollars on the ferry.”
After summarizing the progress of his first 100 days in office, Duffy presented his vision of the city’s next 100 days and beyond. Vital to Duffy’s plan is the attraction of new business to the area, in addition to those that have already been enticed to expand their Rochester presence.
In the course of the evening, Duffy introduced Ron Baiocchi, CEO of Nu-kote, an imaging supply company. In the next year, Nu-kote has committed to moving its corporate headquarters to Rochester, adding between 100 and 150 new jobs to the local economy.
Also in Duffy’s next-100 days plan is a proposal to install a curfew applying to residents of the city that are 16 years old and younger. The proposal would take effect in the months of June, July and August, and would apply between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Duffy’s speech was immediately preceded by an introduction from Seligman, who welcomed the mayor to UR for his first official speech. Duffy visited campus previously as part of a debate between mayoral candidates including four Democratic nominees and Republican nominee John Parrinello.
Duffy’s speech concluded with a message of hope in addition to an acknowledgement of the problems that now face the city.
“We will save one life at a time. Create one job at a time. Graduate one student at a time. We will clean up our city one street at a time. We are one great city, on the rise again,” Duffy said. “Our best days are ahead of us.”Majarian can be reached at email@example.com.