Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Richards era coming to a close; Time to support Lovely Warren

Tom Richards and Lovely Warren
photo provided
Mayor Tom Richards ends campaigning; Time to support Lovely Warren

By Ove Overmyer

Rochester, N.Y. -- Mayor Tom Richards has proven to be one of the best mayors we could have possibly hoped for. He was a reluctant mayor at first, but came at a time when we really needed stability, vision and a sure hand. In my humble opinion, and judged on the basis of his job performance, his ability to build relationships, bring diverse people together and assessing his overall governmental acumen, he should go down in history as one of our better mayors.

The fact is Mayor Tom Richards has been the total package and a role model for those who follow him. He is a class act and I share this with you speaking from a first-person perspective. As a LGBT city library employee and democratically elected union official who negotiates collective bargaining agreements between CSEA and the City Of Rochester, I have worked with four different mayors, plenty of bureaucrats and dozens of city council persons spanning 16 years. I represent thousands union workers who live and work in the city, and I can honestly say that in my opinion, when it’s all said and done Tom Richards will rank right up there with the best of them.

In a span of about two years as Mayor, Tom Richards constructed a great working relationship with both the business community and the private sector and public sector trade unions. Richards clearly demonstrated a vision and ability to improve public safety, balance budgets, create private sector jobs and improve our educational efforts through literacy, supporting our libraries and facilitating open communication with the RCSD. And, right now, he is still partnering with City Councilman Matt Haag to champion policy to improve workplace equality for all local workers. Every time I was around Mayor Richards, he is without a doubt always the smartest guy in the room, uses an economy of words and respects everyone at the table. He has really set the table for our next Mayor.

Time to support Lovely Warren

While the Primary Election was not the outcome most observers expected, I am still very optimistic about the future of our city. Democrats, Independents, Republicans and citizens of every political stripe need to put governing our city first as a priority and put politics on the back burner. We need to all collectively get behind our next mayor, presumably City Council President Lovely Warren. We realize that may be hard to do-- with the advent of a general election fast approaching on November 5.

After all, most Rochester residents have the same expectations from their local governments-- safe streets, good schools, fiscal responsibility, transparency and equal opportunity for all. It’s just that we differ on how to get there. We should openly welcome constructive debate too-- and stop the finger-pointing and bullying behaviors. It's time we start building bridges and stop putting up walls.

My job and my city colleague’s work remains the same no matter who is mayor-- to make Rochester, N.Y. the best mid-sized city in the U.S. in which to live, raise a family, visit and grow a business. We make it our mission to be renowned for our safe neighborhoods, vibrant economy, great libraries, educational excellence and customer service. City employees take personal responsibility for serving our customers - residents, taxpayers, visitors and investors and we do it with great pride.

With that in mind, I think it’s important for all communities of interest to rally behind Lovely Warren in her effort to lead our city forward. It’s just the right thing to do.

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