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Will Lovely Warren support mayoral control?
Rochester, N.Y.More than three years ago, then-mayor Bob Duffy fully supported mayoral control of the Rochester City School District. His city council president, Lovely Warren, also supported this idea.
For several months, the topic of mayoral control created a deep divide among community leaders.
As expected most of the Rochester City School Board members were vehemently against the idea, given that they would have to relinquish their elected positions in the case of mayoral control. Many people felt that the process was undemocratic and would take power away from the residents to select who creates the policies for their schools.
On the other hand, Rochester schools were performing badly and people were getting frustrated. Some people felt mayor control was the only way to bring about change in the district.
In the end, the bill that would have allowed the mayors takeover of the school district was voted down in the state senate. However, conflict and controversy the topic created is still fresh on many minds.
Thats why some people have wondered if Lovely Warren, now the democratic nominee for mayor, was elected in November, would she support mayoral control again?
13WHAM News asked Warren on Thursdaytwo days after her primary win.
Like the governor has said, our districts have to improve, She explained. Right now the superintendent has been working at improving our outcomes. He's a new superintendent and I want to be able to support him.
Warren explains that back in 2010, the circumstances were different. Jean-Claude Brizard was the superintendent, but now, Warren wants to see what current superintendent Bolgen Vargas can accomplish and she also wants to see what next years test scores look like.
So at this point, I'm going to look to support the superintendent and the school board, she explained. If Albany decides we need to go in a different direction, I'll decide on what to do then.
This stance comes as a bit of a relief for those against mayoral control. Newly re-elected school board member Van White says its encouraging to hear that Warren isnt thinking about mayoral control quite yet. There are concerns that if it were to happen, it could happen under a Warren administration.
I think there is a concern because she's admitted in the past that she supported mayoral control, White explained. She works closely with David Gantt who, every year I've been in office, has introduced legislation to introduce mayoral control.
White says if there is talk about mayoral control if Warren becomes mayor, he hopes there will be discussion and compromise. He says when Duffy threw his support behind the idea, there was little discussion and people had to choose sides right away.
My hope is that we avoid a battle or a skirmish on mayoral control again because all that does is polarize and separates your forces, White said. It distracts your attention from the issues that are most important. That's all we can ask... let's look at the results and then down the road have a conversation.
In a recent Voice of the Voter poll, 49 percent of people said they would not support mayoral control whereas 38 percent said that they would.
Green Party candidate Alex White says he is against mayoral control and Mayor Tom Richards has not supported mayoral control of the city schools during his term.
Its unclear whether Richards will run in the general election on other party lines after losing the democratic primary Tuesday.