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Labor Community: We Stand With Shep

The people who work hard for us every single day - driving our buses, serving our food, building safe cars, bridges, buildings and homes for our families, making sure our electricity functions and our roads are paved - these are the people who have come together in unison to say: it's time for a change. Thousands of people from across the political spectrum have joined to lift their voices up, and say, no more. We need new leadership.

I am humbled by this broad coalition of support. I am ready to get our community back on track by continuing to stand with the men and women who work for a better Rochester each and everyday - with their sweat equity. I will continue to stand with them; for workers' rights and economic opportunity, and against cronyism and political expediency.

I want to thank those in labor who have stood proudly beside me and most importantly, for all you do for us and for the cause day in and day out. I appreciate you. I am most grateful for your efforts - and for your dedication to our community.

Voters throughout our great city have a critical decision to make. I am proud to accept these endorsements, and look forward to continue taking my message to voters over the next 10 days - that I am the right leader to usher in a new era at City Hall. One focused on transparency, inclusiveness, and delivering measurable results for all of Rochester's citizens.

Together, we can build a better City for all of us!

IT’S TIME FOR ANSWERS: SHEPPARD CALLS ON WARREN TO DEBATE Withheld Audit, Parcel 5 Among Issues Demanding Explanation

Citing the need for transparency on issues ranging from a secret audit on money spent in the City’s MWBE program to the future of Parcel 5, Mayoral candidate James Sheppard called on Mayor Lovely Warren to participate in previously agreed-upon televised debates before the primary.

“I’m sorry that she doesn’t feel well,” Sheppard said.  “But it’s a critical time.  As Mayor, Lovely Warren owes it to City residents to answer questions about changes made to the mysterious MWBE audit, about the unpopular and unfunded theatre at Parcel 5, and about the continued lack of transparency in her Administration.  It’s time to debate.  The election won’t wait.”

Sheppard further called on Warren to release the draft MWBE audit that was the subject of a Democrat and Chronicle article last week.  Sheppard says voters need answers on why the audit had been changed after it was reviewed in an obvious effort to soften the damning findings. In addition, it was very clear the harsh audit was being held until after the election and came to light only after it was obtained by the Democrat and Chronicle. Sheppard renewed his call for an overhaul of the Office of Public Integrity.  “Amending an audit at the request of the department under examination defies all commonly accepted principles,” Sheppard said, referring to the standards of the National Association of Inspectors General.  “And for the Director of Public Integrity to treat it as ‘business as usual’ is even more cause for alarm.”

Sheppard said that upon taking office, he would submit legislation to City Council to upgrade the Office of Public Integrity to meet national Inspector General standards.  Having these standards in place, he said, would ensure transparency and restore trust in City government.

“From the flawed Request for Proposal process that brought us an unfunded Performing Arts Center at Parcel 5, to this WMBE audit, to the hiring of unqualified friends and family, City taxpayers have lost faith in their government to do what’s right,” Sheppard said.  

“And unfortunately, Mayor Warren is avoiding yet another opportunity to explain her actions by withdrawing from the televised debates,” Sheppard said.  “As a leader, you don’t get to pick the time to lead.  You can’t say it’s okay to speak at one forum in front of business leaders but not in front of the whole community.  The time to lead is now.”  

Open Up The Process And Let The Public Ask The Tough Questions

I’d like to thank the members of the Rochester City Council for holding this forum and allowing the citizens of this community their first opportunity to share their opinion about this critical piece of downtown’s future. 

I hope it is not their last opportunity.

This project deserves a full and open hearing, and deserved it from the very beginning.   This RBTL proposal was accepted by Mayor Warren without details, without financing, and without support.  In fact, it was common knowledge that the City was in negotiations with a different developer, who only learned that his proposal was no longer in the running from a newspaper reporter. 

This does not instill faith in the City’s development process, nor the people who lead it.  Even more reason to do everything possible to open up the process and let the public in on the deal.

But instead, very valid questions that have been raised by members of Rochester’s highly respected arts community -- and by so many others – from the appropriateness of the public investment, to the revenue projections, to the size of the building – have been met with defensiveness and deflection.

It is disingenuous at best for a Mayor who purports to lead the “City of the Arts” to shut out and shut down it’s own arts community.

What is the Administration afraid of?  That people might ask questions about how this City will support another public project, when so many others that were supposed to be self-sustaining – the Convention Center, the Blue Cross Arena, Frontier Field and the Soccer Stadium – are not? 

That an organization that sends 60% of its revenues out of the City will now own two major parcels of the Center City when they have had trouble operating one?

That the arguments the RBTL has used to garner support for the project – attracting shows like Hamilton, providing more space for operations, the revenue projections – have time and again proven to be false?

Yes, these are tough questions.  But like them or not, people have the right to ask them.  Just as they have the right to ask about so many other projects that have fallen on deaf ears – like Cobbs Hill Village, the EMMA neighborhood, and the Port. 

After all, this is not the Lovely Warren Performing Arts Center.  Or worse, Lovely Warren’s Fast Ferry.  The same people who paid for that mistake – the citizens of Rochester – have the right to demand that it not happen again.

James Sheppard Releases Detailed Platform to Get Rochester Working Again

County Legislator and mayoral candidate James Sheppard released his platform today. He held a press conference on the steps of City Hall, saying in part, "my love for this city and concerns about its future are what drive me every single day. Make no mistake about it. I care deeply, and I am motivated to run for mayor, purely because I know that we can do so much better."

Sheppard's platform was assembled with the help of people across the community, from all walks of life and with different experience, expertise and perspectives. Sheppard has been collecting feedback since his formal launch in January, through countless one-on-one interactions, participation in dozens of neighborhood and community meetings, feedback solicited through sheppardforrochester.com, email blasts and social media. Sheppard and his team were proud to unveil his guiding vision; informed, as it should be, by those he serves.

Sheppard's vision is one that overhauls the way that City Hall currently operates. "We need to bring back the days when neighbors felt supported," he said. "People knew who to call, concerns were addressed, and support and resources were provided to bolster their good work. Sadly, though I'm sure that the mayor is well-intentioned, her execution has been poor and any positive results achieved have been far too limited. Not only is it difficult for our citizens to navigate the bureaucracy at City Hall - City Departments do not have the necessary guidance, support, or resources. When your own team is unclear about your priorities and how they're meant to be achieved, how can they be expected to effectively serve Rochester citizens?"

Sheppard's platform, available here and hitting mailboxes throughout the city in the coming days, is focused on the following areas:

PUBLIC SAFETY

Rochester has a violence problem. The inability to acknowledge it is a prime example of Mayor Warrant’s lack of leadership. There is no sense of outrage, no strategy, nothing beyond a 90-day public relations plan. You can’t fix a problem if you pretend it doesn’t exist. Let me be clear. Public safety is my #1 priority.  I will not stand by and wait for the next homicide; we will focus on deterring crime before it happens. 

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 

The best way for our residents to get out of poverty is through good-paying jobs.  We will get Rochester working again by supporting our current businesses, attracting new ones, and helping our citizens get the training they need to fill the jobs our businesses provide. I hear every day: “City Hall has no vision, no plan. No one knows who to talk to.” That will change. We will bring in new leadership to make sure Rochester prospers. I will appoint an Economic Development Commissioner who is a seasoned professional, with significant experience in business development and a proven track record in creating jobs. City government cannot create all of the jobs we need to support our citizens, but we can support the businesses that will. 

NEIGHBORHOODS & HOUSING 

Lovely Warren pledged a renewed focus on Rochester's neighborhoods when she ran for Mayor in 2013.  She said that poor neighborhoods, especially in the city's Northeast, were being shortchanged. What has changed in 3½ years? Very little. Housing foreclosures and vacancies are up. In fact, the City of Rochester has the lowest homeownership rate in the region, and its median home value has dropped 10 percent since 2010. The message many of our city's residents receive is that the American Dream is not for them. Our neighborhood associations have felt so isolated from City Hall that more than half have banded together in hopes that their joint voices will be heard.

FIGHTING POVERTY 

No one wants the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative to fail, and I intend to work with its stakeholders as Mayor to make sure the City is a full partner.  But in the meantime, our residents are hurting.  We need to take steps now to ease the burden of structural poverty.  

EDUCATION & YOUTH

While the Mayor does not have direct control over schools and educational attainment, the City of Rochester can be a supportive, forceful and responsible partner with the Rochester City School District. It is in all of our best interests to have the RCSD succeed in improving educational outcomes for our students. Under a Sheppard administration, we will be ready to take on this critical challenge. We will change the way we approach education in the city of Rochester through a student and family first agenda built on a foundation of unity, transparency and inclusion.

The full platform addresses each of these critical areas and calls for specific policy changes and program ideas to address. This release is just the beginning to the roll out of many important issues not specified in this overarching platform, which require focused attention, in-depth analysis and unique policy prescriptions. Sheppard looks forward to continuing to discuss his approach to these and other important issues and challenges as the balance of the campaign unfolds.

Working Families Party Makes Powerful Statement: Endorses James Sheppard For Mayor

Monroe County Legislator and Mayoral candidate James Sheppard was pleased to learn today, that the Working Families Party has offered its official endorsement.

"A man of action and integrity, James Sheppard represents the fighter for change that Rochester Working Families need," said Upstate Political Director for the Working Families Party, Jesse Lenney. "Whether it be bus drivers, fast food workers or taxi drivers - when workers asked Shep to stand up with them, he was there. Now we are proud to stand with him.”

"More than ever, Rochester Working families need a champion who will stand and fight for safer streets, better schools and economic justice," said Gary Bonadonna Jr., Manager of the Rochester Regional Joint Board. "James Sheppard is that champion, and we at Workers United are proud he has earned the Working Families Party endorsement."

"James Sheppard represents the progressive leader that Working Families need," said Jacques Chapman, President of the Amalgamated Transit Union, who represents workers for Rochester Transit Services. "He's a champion ready to get our community back to work by fighting for workers' rights and economic opportunity. He has always stood up with and for the transit employees of the Amalgamated Transit Union - and now we proudly stand with him.“

Sheppard was excited to hear the news. "I am grateful for the Working Families Party's endorsement," he said. "Voters throughout our great city have a critical decision to make. I am proud to accept this endorsement, and look forward to continue taking my message to voters - that I am the right leader to usher in a new era at City Hall. One focused on transparency, inclusiveness, and delivering measurable results for all of Rochester's citizens."

Working Families was launched by a grassroots coalition of community organizations, union activists and progressive elected officials who believe in a better future for working families. The party works in a growing coalition of labor, community, environmental, youth and faith groups to help build an economy that works for all of us and a democracy in which every voice matters.

Statement from James Sheppard in Response to Warren's Press Conference on Gun Violence

Statement from James Sheppard in Response to Warren's Press Conference on Gun Violence

The Mayor held a news conference today to proclaim June as Gun Violence Awareness Month. 

Considering the number of gun-related violent events that occurred over the Memorial Day weekend, we don’t need a reminder of what we all know to be true - our city is in crisis.  We are already painfully "aware."

Warren Puts Special Interests Above Citizens

Mayor Lovely Warren’s decision to host a job fair at City Hall sponsored by Uber, the sole client of her former Chief of Staff Jeremy Cooney, was the latest in a series that put the interests of her friends and supporters ahead of the interests of Rochester’s residents.

We have heard from people in neighborhoods across the City that when they need something from City Hall, their concerns go unheard and unaddressed. Just in the past twenty-four hours, six people have been shot in the City of Rochester, but the Mayor has been silent.  However, the Mayor in that same time, has welcomed Uber and even put up an Uber banner to promote the interests of her friends.

When the City of Rochester needs her most, Warren is silent, but for personal and political friends she is there.

It is time for a Mayor who fights for the interests of all Rochesterians, not just the richest and most-well connected among us. 

Sheppard Secures Independence Party Backing

Monroe County Legislator and Mayoral candidate James Sheppard was pleased to learn today, that the Monroe County Independence Party has offered its official endorsement.

Chairman Stephen Corryn said that its members were enthusiastic in their support. "We are so pleased to stand with James Sheppard. Throughout his career, the Chief has been a devoted public servant and proven leader, who has been guided by a strong moral compass, and always put people before politics. The Independence Party is proud to offer its endorsement, and we look forward to helping carry his important message to voters - that the city of Rochester is frankly broken right now, and he is the right leader to usher in a new era at City Hall. One focused on transparency, inclusiveness, and delivering measurable results for all of Rochester's citizens."

Sheppard was excited to hear the news. "I am grateful for the Monroe County Independence Party's endorsement," he said. "Voters throughout our great city have a critical decision to make. I am proud to accept this endorsement, and eager to continue making my case to Rochester voters, one door at a time."

Sheppard for Mayor Campaign Rally

Calling #TeamShep!!! I have got some amazing supporters. I am blessed and grateful for your calls, texts, emails and Facebook messages telling me that you're with me, you've got my back, and you're ready to get to work. Thank you! Now is your chance: show me and everyone who is watching on the sidelines, that #TeamShep is in the building and we are #InItToWinIt!!!

Please join us this Saturday, May 20th at 10AM at Workers United Union Hall, 750 East Avenue. I want to tell you all the amazing things my campaign is working on - and would appreciate it if you could please join me afterwards to hit the streets with my literature to spread the word!

PLEASE RSVP YES to info@sheppardforrochester.com. Can't wait to see you there!

James Sheppard Responds to Designation Results: Fired Up! Ready To Go!

First, I would like to congratulate Lovely Warren on clinching the Democratic nomination tonight.

Thank you, City Democratic Committee members. I appreciated the opportunity to meet and talk with you over the past few months, which resulted in my winning the same number of Democratic Committees as the incumbent mayor - and illustrates the growing push for change in our community.

I respect the Democratic Committee process and look forward to the next stage - taking our message to the streets of Rochester.

While I truly respect the Party process, it is not a secret that no Democrat endorsed by the Democratic Party has gone on to win a Democratic Mayoral Primary in nearly three decades. 

And at a time when the mayor calls hard working party members "elitist insiders," questions the authenticity of their service to the community - and refuses to support progressive stalwarts of our Party such as Sandy Frankel and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter - we need now, more than ever, to fight for the progressive leadership and ideals that our community deserves.

I have heard the message from our Democratic voters loud and clear. From boardrooms to barbershops, people are asking for a better way. They want integrity and transparency in City Hall, and a voice in shaping a safe, vibrant, growing community.

As we take our campaign to the streets of Rochester, we are building the biggest field campaign this city has ever seen. With help from our field director, team of grassroots organizers, and enthusiastic volunteers, we are going to make sure that every Democrat knows that change is on the ballot in September. We're going door to door, neighborhood by neighborhood - and we won't take a single vote for granted. I'm thrilled to have this team with me, and can't wait to see what we can accomplish together. And I am excited to begin unveiling our detailed platform for change over the next several weeks.

For those who continue to seek real leadership, who demand more transparency and integrity in government, and who want a mayor that listens to what all of our citizens have to say - I invite you to join me as we fight to restore Rochester's promise and get Rochester working again.

Thank you,

James Sheppard