Legislature primaries precede bigger contest
Local Democrats are making their hardest push in at least a decade to take control of the Monroe County Legislature; the last time the party held the county executive's seat or a majority in the Legislature was in the 1990s.
The party has a full ticket, with candidates for all but one of the Legislature seats and strong candidates at the top: County Clerk Adam Bello will take on incumbent Republican County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo, and Shani Curry Mitchell is running against incumbent Republican District Attorney Sandra Doorley.
All 29 Legislature seats are up this year, and working the county executive race into the equation, there could be one of four outcomes: a Republican executive with a Republican-controlled Legislature, a Republican executive with a Democratic-majority Legislature, a Democratic exec and Legislature, and a Democratic executive with a Republican-led Legislature.
But while Democrats are starting their big push, they're also facing six Legislature primaries. One of them is in a district that covers parts of Henrietta and Pittsford, but the others center on city neighborhoods. The winner in most of those races will not have a general-election opponent.
Democrats have already laid out key points for the general election. They've argued that the Republican-led county government hasn't been honest about the budget and property taxes. They say the county's approach to economic development has been scattershot and ineffective, and they say they want initiatives that are more focused.
They're also arguing that the administration and Republican majority haven't done enough to address understaffing and high caseloads in the county's Children Protective Services division. And they've pledged to better fund county preschool early intervention services and day care subsidies.
And that's the background against which the Democratic Legislature primaries are occurring. The candidates in those races differ less on issues than on personality, approach, and background. A few of the races have been contentious.
Here's a look at who's running for the Monroe County Legislature:
13th District -- parts of Henrietta and Pittsford
Steg, who has a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology, is a project manager for Harris Corp. Steg ran unsuccessfully for the Pittsford Town Board in 2013.
He's also a volunteer at the city's Verona Street Animal Shelter, and while he emphasizes many of the same issues and ideas as other Democratic candidates, he also incorporates animal welfare into his platform.
Specifically, he wants a county law prohibiting animal abusers from owning or adopting pets in Monroe County. Other Democratic legislators have proposed similar laws over the years.
Yudelson is the party-designated candidate in the race and should be familiar to Henrietta residents. He's a former Republican who served as the town's recreation department director and as a Town Board member. He was town supervisor from 2008 through 2013, but he lost a Republican primary to Jack Moore. Yudelson joined the Democratic Party in October 2013.
Prior to his time as Henrietta supervisor, Yudelson was operations director for the Center for Youth Services. He's currently the executive director of Temple B'rith Kodesh, a position he's held since late 2016.
21st District -- North Winton Village, Beechwood, and Bensonhurst neighborhoods
Barnhart has a high level of public recognition because of her years as a hard-charging reporter; she spent most of her 18 years on television working at either WROC Channel 8 or WHAM Channel 13.
She entered the world of politics in 2016, when she primaried Assembly member Harry Bronson; she lost that race, as well as the 2017 mayoral primary and the 2018 primary for the late Louise Slaughter's House seat.
She's positioned herself as a progressive, independent-minded Democrat who's not tied to the party's top leaders; she's often critical of them, particularly when it comes to matters of money in politics. In general, Barnhart uses her profile and platforms to speak out on government ethics, campaign finance reform, mass transit, and economic development practices.
Sanchez is the party-designated candidate in this race. He works for Wegmans in the company's development group, where he's a building information modeling coordinator.
He's also co-chair of the RocCity Coalition young professionals group, and he represents the coalition on the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council and on the ROC the Riverway advisory committee. He's also on the Reimagine RTS advisory committee.
Sanchez, who is gay, volunteers with the Human Rights Campaign and is on the board of Trillium Health.
23rd District -- Monroe Avenue, Park Avenue, Cobbs Hill, Browncroft, a sliver of Brighton
Ginett is a branch operations coordinator for M&T Bank and previously held several positions in a staffing and job recruitment company, though he emphasizes his volunteer and advocacy work.
Last year, he began serving on the city of Rochester's ethics board, and before that, he was on the young professionals' advisory board of the Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Ginett, who is gay, helped the Center for Youth raise funding to establish a shelter for homeless LGBTQ youths, and in 2016 and 2017, he organized memorials for the Pulse Nightclub shooting. For eight years, he organized a World AIDS Day benefit concert.
Grady's background is in journalism, in public relations and marketing, and in real estate. He spent seven years writing about business for the Democrat and Chronicle; the county economic development agency and airport were parts of his beat.
He's also a former communications director for the Rochester Business Alliance -- now the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce -- and was involved with the launch of Unshackle Upstate, a coalition that advocates for upstate business interests and against tax and fee increases.
Grady currently works in residential real estate sales. He emphasizes collaboration and nonpartisanship to address issues in county government and in the community.
Hasman is the designated candidate in this three-way race. She's currently the assistant director for research and clinical development at the University of Rochester Medical Center's Miner Library and previously worked at the National Institutes of Health's clinical research library in Bethesda, Maryland. She's pursuing her master's degree in public health at UR.
In her campaign, Hasman has linked the health and safety of children, the aging, and other vulnerable populations with key county social service programs. Hasman is also a former member of the ABC Streets Neighborhood Association board.
25th District -- High Falls, Corn Hill, Plymouth-Exchange, Parts of South Wedge and Center City
(No website found)
Bryant is a community integration manager at Lifetime Assistance and is a former U.S. Marine, as well as a small-business owner, according to a flyer for his campaign.
He emphasizes several of the same issues as other Democrats running for Legislature seats, though in a flyer, he promises to advocate for "advanced transportation services" through Monroe County.
(No website found)
Lightfoot is the party's designated candidate for the seat. He has served as the 25th District legislator since 2012 and served on City Council from 2006 to 2010.
In 2013, he was one of the Democratic representatives on the County Legislature's Charter Review Commission. He's also assistant leader of the Legislature's Democratic caucus.
26th District -- Charlotte, Maplewood, parts of Gates and Greece
Micciche is the incumbent in the race. He was first elected to the seat in 2011 as a Republican, unseating a Democratic incumbent. He was re-elected in 2015, again as the GOP candidate, when he faced a challenge from Democrat Yversha Roman.
He joined the Democratic Party in October 2018, saying he had become disillusioned with the local Republican Party.
Micciche worked for General Motors for 25 years and invests in city of Rochester residential properties. He's also a member of several community organizations.
Roman is the party's designated candidate. She works at United Way as a relationship manager and formerly was assistant director of school-based programs at the Center For Youth.
Roman began advocacy and organizing work in her community when she was 13, starting a youth group at St. Michael's Church. At 15, she worked as an HIV and AIDS peer educator through Action for a Better Community.
She's currently the leader of the city Legislative Districts 7 and 26 Democratic Committee.
27th District -- 19th Ward, Dutchtown
Dukes works for Buffalo-based Person Centered Services as a care coordinator for children and adults with developmental, intellectual, and mental health disabilities. Before that, she worked in the Urban League of Rochester's developmental disabilities department and as an assistant program coordinator at Quad A for Kids.
She currently volunteers with Action for a Better Community's New Directions program. She emphasizes the need to develop policies aimed at dismantling systemic poverty throughout Monroe County.
LaMar was recently appointed to the Legislature's 27th District seat after the incumbent, LaShay Harris, resigned to fill a vacancy on City Council.
She is project coordinator for the Community Engagement to Reduce Victimization project at RIT's Center for Public Safety Initiatives.
She also chairs the education committee of the ROC Against Gun Violence Coalition and is the assistant director of Rise UP Rochester, an all-volunteer group that promotes nonviolent culture and provides support to families of homicide victims. LaMar also has an accounting background and is a proponent of development without displacement.
Moule is a CITY Newspaper reporter.