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When this newspaper profiled Lovely Warren a year ago, she described what she says to city school students who may be dealing with a parent on drugs or their own emotional problems. She tells them: "Whether you're black, white, Hispanic or whatever in this city, no matter what your income is, you can still become somebody. When you look in the mirror 25 years from now, when you're 35 years old, what do you want to see? Where do you want to be?"
Ms. Warren herself may not have imagined it when she was young, but at 36, she now is Rochester mayor-elect. In January, she will become the first female mayor in the city's history.
As noted here after the City Council president defeated incumbent Mayor Thomas Richards in September's Democratic primary, many Rochester businesspeople hoped Mr. Richards would get the chance to serve another term. Many also expressed pessimism about Ms. Warren's ability to lead the city effectively.
But the story of her rise from very difficult circumstances offers reason for optimism. A grandfather critically injured in a shooting, a father addicted to crack cocaine, an abusive relationship, a serious illness-Ms. Warren would not let it defeat her. She graduated from college, earned a degree from Albany Law School and was hired as chief of staff for state Assemblyman David Gantt. She became a City Council member in 2007 and its president in January 2010.
The determination this story reveals will serve her well as mayor. So, too, will her understanding of issues facing businesses in the city.
Mr. Richards was typically gracious in congratulating Ms. Warren after the results were in Tuesday night. He noted that "the job of mayor goes far beyond a single individual," saying that "it's now time for the entire community to come together."
We hope the mayor-elect draws on a wide circle of people to assist and advise her-among them Mr. Richards, who has served the city with great distinction. Rochester faces many challenges, and the mayor has demonstrated time and again the ability to confront them.
For Ms. Warren, the hardest work likely awaits her. But that fact in no way diminishes what she already has accomplished.
11/8/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.