Malik Evans, a Rochester City Council member who is challenging Mayor Lovely Warren in the Democratic primary in a bid to unseat her, has secured the endorsement of the Working Families Party, guaranteeing him a spot on the November ballot.
Party officials announced their support of Evans on Thursday, citing Warren’s handling of the death of Daniel Prude and what they described as a “longstanding pattern of police brutality” in Rochester that has continued under her administration.
“Rochester needs new leadership, by and for the people, and that’s why the Working Families Party is proud to endorse Malik Evans for Rochester mayor,” Sochie Nnaemeka, the director of the state Working Families Party, said in a prepared statement.
The Working Families endorsement of Evans was not entirely unexpected. The party backed challengers to Warren in each of her prior successful runs for mayor, one in 2013 and the other in 2017.
Still, the endorsement means Evans will have a spot on the ballot in the fall regardless of his performance in the Democratic primary in June — a contest that has traditionally been a bellwether for the outcome of the general election for Rochester mayor.
In 2017, Warren fended off a Democratic primary challenge from former Monroe County Legislator James Sheppard, who had the backing of the Working Families Party, and won the general election handily.
Her inaugural race for mayor in 2013 was tighter when she faced the incumbent mayor and Working Families candidate, Tom Richards, after upsetting him in the Democratic primary. Warren captured more than 55 percent of the vote.
This time around, however, her handling of the death of Prude and a felony criminal indictment for alleged campaign finance violations are testing her popularity with voters.
A City Council-commissioned investigation into the official response to Prude’s suffocation death at the hands of police faulted Warren and the former police chief, La’Ron Singletary, for keeping critical details of the case hidden from public view for months and later lying about what they knew and when.
A spokesperson for the Warren campaign had no immediate comment on the endorsement.
Nnaemeka called Evans, who was a Rochester school board commissioner for 10 years, including five as president, before being elected to an at-large City Council seat in 2013, a “time-tested community activist” with a “vision of equity and justice.”
Evans said in a prepared statement that he respects the Working Families Party and the values it represents.
“I am proud to have their support as we work together to restore transparency in City Hall,” Evans said.
David Andreatta is CITY's editor. He can be reached at email@example.com.