Mayor, City of Rochester, New York
Years in current role: fewer than 1
What was your biggest success in 2021?
Convening over one hundred different groups representing thousands of people during a pandemic, to hear about the vision they have for Rochester and being able to incorporate that vision into our plans for the city.
What are your expectations for 2022?
Promoting positive systemic and structural change by providing transparent and collaborative leadership, offering equitable access to essential municipal services, enabling productive intergovernmental, private and non-profit partnerships, and promoting increased quality of life through investments that create vibrant neighborhoods and employment opportunities, making Rochester a hope-filled city with an exciting future.
What is your biggest takeaway from dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?
We have two pandemics: the virus and violent crime both have a disproportionate effect on people of color. The economic upheaval of the pandemic is also negatively impacting Black and Brown people more than the population as a whole. The recovery from the pandemic must include a strong focus on equity and engagement to correct these issues.
What is your favorite thing about the Rochester community?
The innovative spirit of the people of Rochester and the quality of life they have created here. Our historic industries all have the common thread of innovation and thinking outside of the box. This remains true to today with all the research coming out of places like the University of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology – and the work to find marketable ideas for that research in places such as the Downtown Innovation Zone. Rochester is poised to achieve self-perpetuating greatness in the 21st century as we fully develop our knowledge economy and invest in infrastructure that further enhances our quality of life (ROC the Riverway, Inner Loop North, Bike Trails, etc.).
If time were no issue, what would you do to help the community that you aren’t already doing?
I would spend even more time with community stakeholders to build consensus and achieve compromise on the community’s greatest challenges. There are a lot of great ideas to improve the community, but too many are stalled because we tend to focus on points of disagreement, rather than on our points of agreement. It’s important to operate in full transparency to build trust with the community, so government leaders can have full confidence that our decisions reflect the will of the people as we make the difficult decisions to set priorities.