ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The first debate this year for the Rochester mayor primary race is in the books. Incumbent Lovely Warren took on Democratic challenger and Rochester City Councilman Malik Evans Tuesday night on News 8 WROC.
The Rochester mayoral debate touched on many of the issues affecting the community, such as gun violence, education, jobs, the Police Accountability Board, and of recent interest, the arrest of Mayor Lovely Warren’s husband.
“I did not know about the guns or the drugs," Warren said. "I do not own the guns or drugs. And I have, and will continue, to move our community forward.”
But on that issue and all the others, both candidates refrained from attacking or even interrupting each other during the course of the hour-long debate.
After the debate, Evans said it was instead important to remain on message. Mayor Warren did not speak with media following the debate.
“Mrs. Smith on Smith Street is concerned about not having enough money to eat," Evans said. "It’s important because we are in a city where we had 130 people shot so far this year. So the issues are so critical for our community going forward.”
On many of the issues, like tackling gun violence with youth outreach, supporting the Police Accountability Board and using home ownership to create generational wealth, the positions of the candidates remained fairly the same.
But Evans said he’s running due to the breakdown in trust between the community and city hall, following the death of Daniel Prude last year.
“I think one of the things we stand apart in is my ability to build broad-based coalitions of people coming together, particularly after the last year we saw," Evans said. "I have a proven track record of that, if you look at my record of universal pre-K and bringing people together on that. And just my larger ‘outside of government’ activities, it’s about bringing people together.”
"When I finally saw the body worn camera video, I wanted to disclose," Warren said. "I have said that that was a mistake."
"This situation absolutely has torn the city apart," Evans said. "We weren't alerted about it until September, that is a long gap."
But Mayor Warren says one thing the community can trust is her record, especially on issues like housing.
“I don’t know where Councilmember Evans has been, but we have done exactly what our community has asked us to do when it comes down to building more affordable housing," Warren said. "To think, we built over 3,800 new, affordable housing units in our community over the last seven years.”
The Democratic primary election is Tuesday, June 22.