In her expected bid for re-election this fall, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren will face at least two well-known Democratic primary challengers—James Sheppard and Rachel Barnhart—who appear to have stronger support in the business community.
Warren has not announced her intention to run but is widely expected to do so. In this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll, she was favored by only 13 percent, compared with 59 percent for Sheppard and 28 percent for Barnhart.
The mayor had more support among the 36 percent of respondents who reside or own a business in the city, but still ran a distant third.
Warren may not need the backing of the business community, however. In a Snap Poll conducted shortly before the September 2013 Democratic primary in which she challenged Mayor Thomas Richards, more than 90 percent of respondents favored Richards. But in the primary, Warren won with nearly 60 percent of the vote.
Before her election as mayor, Warren had served on City Council since 2007, representing the Northeast District, and became Council president in January 2010. She also served as lead counsel and chief of staff to state Assemblyman David Gantt, D-Rochester.
Sheppard, who announced his candidacy last month, joined the city police department in 1981 and rose in the ranks before leaving in 2008 to become director of safety and security for the Rochester City School District. In March 2010, he became director of the city’s Office of Public Integrity. He was appointed chief of police in November 2010 and retired from that post on Dec. 31, 2013, shortly before Warren was sworn in to office as mayor. He was elected to the Monroe County Legislature in 2015, representing the 23rd District in southeast Rochester and northeast Brighton.
Barnhart formally announced her candidacy Monday. She is a former TV reporter and anchor who unsuccessfully challenged Assemblyman Harry Bronson in a Democratic primary last September.
Nearly 850 readers participated in this week’s Snap Poll, which was conducted Feb. 6 and 7.
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