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Primary candidates for Rochester City School Board, part one

 Maria Cruz and Isaiah Santiago on "Connections"
David Griffin
Maria Cruz and Isaiah Santiago on "Connections with Evan Dawson" on Tuesday, June 13, 2023
A smiling man with short dark hair wearing a blue button-down shirt and a grey blazer. He is holding a pair of eyeglasses. The word "Connections" appears on the left side of the photo in vertical letters.

What are some of the biggest issues facing the Rochester City School District? It’s a question we address with all of the candidates running in this month’s primary election for Rochester City School Board. Seven school board candidates are vying for four open positions in the Democratic primary and ballot lines in the general election.

This hour, we hear from the first group of candidates.* Our guests:

*To hear Part Two of this conversation, click here.

The candidates also spoke at a recorded Zoom forum organized by The Children's Agenda on June 12, 2023.

About the Candidates

Maria Cruz smiles at the camera, in a courtyard
Jacob Walsh
CITY Magazine
Maria Cruz, a candidate for Rochester school board, outside the WXXI Connections studio.

Maria Cruz

Maria Cruz is a parent advocate who moved to Rochester from Puerto Rico in 1993. Cruz has raised children in the school district, and said that experience made her an advocate for parents and children, especially in special education and services. She believes the school system needs to offer more individual approaches to education, and that the system is in crisis and needs an urgent intervention.

Isaiah Santiago smiles at the camera in a courtyard
Jacob Walsh
CITY Magazine
Isaiah Santiago, a candidate for Rochester school board, outside the WXXI Connections studio.

Isaiah Santiago

Isaiah Santiago graduated from Rochester City School District last year. He says the system is stagnant and needs youth leadership to change. Santiago says he may be young, but he's not inexperienced, citing his work founding We Got This, a program to combat youth gun violence, at 16. The program is still active in city rec centers. He has also developed a Mental Health Literacy curriculum, which will be an elective health class in the school system, and serves on the statewide board, Families Together NYS, as part of a student advisory committee for the New York State board of regents.

Make your voting plan

Monroe County will hold a primary election on June 27, 2023. Are you registered to vote in Monroe County? If not, you can register to vote online or download forms to mail in. Early voting will be available from June 17 to June 25. If you can't vote early or in-person on June 27, you can request a mail-in ballot online by June 12 or in-person by June 26.

Here are the registered candidates for the primary.

*The second group of candidates will join us on Thursday at noon.
**A third candidate, Jacqueline Griffin, was scheduled to participate, but did not arrive for the discussion.

Evan Dawson is the host of "Connections with Evan Dawson." He joined WXXI in January 2014 after working at 13WHAM-TV, where he served as morning news anchor. He was hired as a reporter for 13WHAM-TV in 2003 before being promoted to anchor in 2007.
Megan Mack is the executive producer of "Connections with Evan Dawson" and live/televised engagement programming.