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Ernest Flagler-Mitchell is the latest Democrat to throw his hat in the ring for the 137th District State Assembly seat

David Gantt has held the seat for nearly 40 years, but it's not clear if he'll run again. Gantt, 78, is dealing with health concerns and has not yet declared his intentions.

Flagler-Mitchell, 41, is a former firefighter who has been in the Monroe County Legislature for five years. He was just re-elected as assistant minority leader. He also trains future firefighters at East High School.

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Rochester City Board of Education Commissioner Natalie Sheppard is a candidate for the 137th District Assembly seat now held by Democrat David Gantt.

Gantt is one of the longest-serving members of the Assembly, having first been elected in 1982.

Sheppard, who was elected to the school board in 2017, is a licensed master social worker, and for more than 15 years has worked with individuals and families in areas that include education, mental health and criminal justice. She said her goals include improving “the mental, fiscal, physical and emotional health for every person in our community.”

Assemblyman David Gantt is calling for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to take immediate action on the Rochester City School District’s financial crisis. Gantt says that the state has failed to act while the district floundered for more than 40 years. 

In a letter to Cuomo on Monday, Gantt strongly condemned the City School District’s leadership for what he says was deliberate and systematic overspending of at least $30 million in the last fiscal year.

He proposes that a financial control board be established, followed by mayoral control of the district.

Mayor Lovely Warren said Thursday that she was first approached to take mayoral control of the Rochester City School District earlier this year.

The district has been under increased scrutiny from state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia because of its fiscal and management problems and its long history of poor graduation rates.

Warren would not say who approached her, but she did say she’d rather have experts run the district.

Longtime Assemblyman David Gantt says the Rochester City School District is “failing” students and he wants to change that.

The Rochester Democrat has two bills in conference to change how the district is managed. One would give more control to the superintendent and the other would give the mayor control of the district. Gantt said that system has improved New York City schools, and he believes Rochester should try it.

“Our kids are failing,” Gantt said. “Something has to change. That’s why I believe in mayoral control.”

When Mayor Lovely Warren joined Connections earlier this month, she defended Assemblyman David Gantt's decision to abandon one of his rental properties in the City of Rochester, effectively turning it into a zombie property.

A group called Take Back the Land was disappointed to hear that; they point out that the vast majority of zombie properties nationwide are left behind by rental property owners who give up.

So how can the city toughen up or deal with the issue? Beyond that, the group fights evictions, calling for housing as a human right. We talk to them about all of these issues. Our guests, all from Take Back the Land:

  • Ryan Acuff
  • Julie Gelfand
  • Elizabeth McGriff
  • Barbara Horton

  

Assemblyman David Gantt responds to Democrat and Chronicle columnist David Andreatta's recent reports on housing issues that involve the Assemblyman.

Reports:

A Slow Clap for Assemblyman David Gantt (December 11, 2015)

City Demolishes 'Gantt' House (October 26, 2015)

Why Not David F. Gantt Parkette? (June 5, 2015)

What's up with Assemblyman David Gantt's abandoned house? Turns out it's not the same as a "zombie property." But it's a real problem: people giving up on property and walking away from it. Gantt has not returned our calls to appear on the show or comment, but we talk about the issue with our panel: