More than three-quarters of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll support Thomas Richards in the upcoming special mayoral election.
Rochester City Council voted to hold a special election March 29 to determine a replacement for Robert Duffy, who resigned Dec. 31 to be sworn in as lieutenant governor.
Richards—whom Duffy selected as city corporation counsel before taking office in 2006 and later named deputy mayor—has announced his candidacy as a Democrat for mayor. Seventy-six percent of readers support him for mayor.
William Johnson Jr., a Democrat who served as mayor from 1994 to 2005, last week announced he will run. Some 13 percent of respondents back Johnson in the race.
The Democrats are slated to choose their mayoral candidate at a Feb. 5 convention.
Alex White, owner of a game store on Monroe Avenue, will be the Green Party candidate. He received support from 7 percent of the poll respondents.
Four percent support businessman Harry Davis, who also made a bid for the Green Party nod and has launched an effort to collect the 1,500 signatures of registered city voters he needs to be on the ballot.
More than 735 readers participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 and was not limited to city residents.
Whom do you support in Rochester’s special election for mayor?
Thomas Richards: 76%
William Johnson Jr.: 13%
Alex White: 7%
Harry Davis: 4%
Here are some comments from readers:
Tom Richards is highly respected and has demonstrated excellent integrity, leadership and management skills in both the public and private sector. Rochester is extremely fortunate that Tom has cleaned up a number of major fiscal and management problems in the city. He isn’t a politician but rather the most qualified candidate. That is why Richards should be elected mayor.
I watched what Tom Richards did to RG&E when he elbowed his way into the chairman/CEO job. In no time at all, he sold the company, pocketed over $10 million for himself, and 700 employees were thrown out on the street by the foreign buyer. If Richards’ idea of civic involvement is what he did to that company, why on earth would anyone support him for an elected office? Bill Johnson has his flaws, but he always tried to build things in this town, not destroy them.
Alex White has impressed me with his ideas to improve our community and his moral convictions, as when he joined our demonstration for solidarity with the protesters in Egypt.
Mayor Johnson takes a lot of criticism, but at least he tried to make things happen during his tenure. Charlotte and High Falls were both revitalized on his watch. It would be nice to have someone in charge who believes in Rochester again. A mayor’s job is really to be a cheerleader for his city—not as a platform for other political beliefs and ambitions.
Tom Richards represents the best candidate for the city of Rochester. Mayor Johnson’s ruse of providing the voters with a choice is another way of saying, “I want back in the spotlight,” rather than a sense of care/concern for the voting public. If it’s possible to ignore the fast ferry debacle, you cannot ignore the wasted millions poured into development of High Falls, the entertainment district envisioned by Mayor Johnson (that is not very entertaining).
—Paul Hohensee, Webster
I do not live in the city, but I am concerned with the status of city government. Rochester has a lot going for it, but the leadership has made a mockery of the process and is wasting a lot of precious time and resources to duke it out over which faction controls City Hall. I think that it is time to consolidate city and county government and put a stop to the waste of taxpayer money.
Just pick somebody who can work with the county. Until Bob Duffy and Maggie Brooks came along, the city and county never seemed to be on the same page. The community was the one that suffered.
Bill Johnson? You can’t be serious. We need someone with fiscal responsibility, not someone who squanders millions on a ferry boat and the High Falls area when everyone frequents the East End.
—Rick Corey, Penfield
We must stay the course, especially because that course is right for Rochester.
Tom Richards has been a quiet but successful leader in our legal, business and political community for years. While he could likely have retired years ago, he is committed to our city’s success. Former Mayor Bill Johnson had his time to shine and did not; since he left office we have been more successful as a community. Let’s not go backward simply because Johnson is familiar.
Tom Richards is the right candidate for the job. Tom will bring his extensive knowledge of what is best for the Rochester community to the mayor’s office. Tom has been instrumental in working through the challenges of the Midtown project, which will once again create a vibrant downtown Rochester. Tom will continue to advocate for what is in the best interest of his constituents, local community groups and businesses working to improve the economic future of downtown. Without Tom Richards as mayor, the city’s chance for a well-functioning, stable community with the potential for job growth and attracting business to Rochester and Monroe County will be significantly compromised.
—Gail Morelle, Christa Construction
Tom Richards has the experience to run our city government and to carry forward policies begun by Mayor Duffy. Two have no experience, and ex-Mayor Johnson has nothing new to add.
What confuses me the most is what exactly was Duffy trying to accomplish before he left for Albany? What favor, what deal, what relationship had to be honored? Rochester: Restore order! Bring David Moore into the mayor’s office as deputy mayor to Bill Johnson! Integrity, integrity, integrity!
—Ann Duckett, marketing and communications manager, Visiting Nurse Service of Rochester and Monroe County Inc.
I do not support any of the above referenced candidates. Rochester needs some fresh young blood in office, not the same old political machine.
One has to question the wisdom of Mr. Richards’ decision-making, especially in light of his recent approval and recommendation that the city sell vacant real estate it owns at the corner North Winton Road and Mayfield Street for only $30,000. If someone had reviewed comparable sales, they would have seen that a vacant lot at the corner of North Winton and Blossom Roads (just a few hundred meters down the road from the city’s North Winton property), sold for over $2,000,000 in early January 2010. Was it short sightedness on the judgment of real estate value, or maybe more stereotypical government in action, doing their business as usual and under the radar. At least with Mayor Johnson, we know what we are getting for our vote.
— Mark DiFelice
William Johnson? Are you serious? What short memories we have, eh? Must be the cold winter that has frozen our brains. Puhleeze, folks, Mr. Johnson should be the very last person being seriously considered for mayor (again). In my opinion, the sheer arrogance of the man and the fact that he has the gall to dismiss the fast ferry as a possible error in judgment or worse, a good idea at the wrong time, should be reason enough for the good people of Rochester to say "Whoa Nelly"!
Please not Bill Johnson. Please not Bill Johnson. Please not Bill Johnson.
Second choice is Carlos Carballada.
Why are you asking me? I don’t live in Rochester. Let’s have a municipal government and start doing something for the people. Lower all taxes!
Who cares about the other three, let’s just make sure that Johnson is as far away from this thing as possible!
—Devon Michaels, Chili
There should not be a "special" election.
No, no, no! Bill "Fast Ferry" Johnson. The ferry failed because the business plan was either non-existent or very flawed. I still cannot forget the added insult of a no strings attached "dollar a year" lease deal for 40 years for the Charlotte site. His legacy to Rochester should not be allowed to be embellished with more failures. He is the known quantity, a real negative.
I like that Alex White stands for small businesses and represents a positive change to the status quo.
Let’s get a businessman in position for a change, and starting running government like it should be and stop losing money.
—James Stevens, PSWC
We need leadership – and we need it now – for today’s world. Tom Richards has shown he can make it happen.
Tom is best qualified to keep us moving toward the goals we have set under Bob Duffy’s generally excellent administration. We need to be looking forward and not back.
I can’t believe that the City would ever choose the big business dinosaur Thomas. Every month the Spaniards treat us all like the Incas as they export our wealth and overcharge and under serve our energy requirements. Who created this situation? Tom Richards! Now he wants to be CEO of the City of Rochester? Who’s he going to sell us out to? Madrid? We don’t need any more business management in City government, it’s not a business, and it’s our city! Give me Bill Johnson who at least understands something besides the rules for admission to Oak Hill.
—John Perry Smith, Total Information Inc.
Remember the Fast Ferry!
—Diane Harris, HEI Inc.
We are fortunate to have the opportunity to have the benefit of Tom’s strong leadership experience in both the private and public sectors.
—Nathan J. Robfogel
It’s ironic that you ask your readers who Democratic LD members should pick as their candidate for mayor. As a Democrat and LD member who will vote on Saturday it’s not as clear cut a decision as one might think. I’ve publicly stated that I am against a special election, because I don’t believe that some subset of 600 delegates truly represent the broader population of Rochester. Tom Richards hasn’t done much to let the party’s rank and file know who he is and what his plans for the future are. More importantly, the way he’s acted as the heir apparent will hurt his legitimacy when he has to make difficult decisions as the upcoming budget is prepared. Party leaders, by taking a heavy-handed approach may very well have polarized some City Council members who may very well stifle Mr. Richard’s ability to move the city in the direction he desires. Former Mayor Bill Johnson’s late entry and clear affiliation with the teachers union and other city unions, as well as his stated reluctance to support school reform will be his Achilles heel. So on one side we have the populist Bill Johnson and the other, Tom Richards, business leaders and party leaders choice. At this point it’s a tossup. The other two candidates are well known to delegates, but don’t have the experience or strength to prevail, but could draw crucial votes away from the prime contenders. Most likely, LD and Party leaders will have the final say, and that is what inflames most of us who wanted a general election in the fall.
—Frank Orienter, Rochester
How about none of the above! None of those listed are worth a tinkers damn. Bill “We Need a Fast Ferry” Johnson! (Really? Seriously?) Tom Richards (more of the same, old same old). The other two who are they? Come on, we need a real business leader who will have some real vision for the city. Maybe a Phil Saunders or Dutch Summers type. Someone who’s an entrepreneur who has dealt with adversity, and accomplished some real and meaningful change. A person who has managed and dealt with large numbers of employees and people and has gotten results. Without that type of person, the city will continue to spiral out of existence.
—Jim Duke, Victor
(c) 2011 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail email@example.com.