Harry Davis, seeking Green nomination for Rochester, NY mayor, explains why he is running and why labor should support him

Harry Davis, one of two announced candidates for the Green nomination in the race for mayor of Rochester, sent the following two statements to contact.ipr@gmail.com.

The first, on why he is running:

Why I am Running

Our City of Rochester has had three mayors in three weeks.

It is now Week Four, so we should be expecting a new mayor any day now.

This merry-go-round scenario hardly befits the dignity of the Office of Mayor, and is purely a consequence of political domination by the Democratic Party insider elites.

Our local Democratic Party has been taking our community for granted. In an illegal closed-door meeting in a City Councilperson’s residence several weeks ago, the party insiders decided that they would not allow the full democratic process to take place in selecting a new mayor.

Instead, they announced that the process would be shortened, and that a special election would be held this March. This hardly gives enough time for anyone other than their own anointed candidate. Can any of you imagine how difficult it would be to go door-to-door in sub-zero temperatures and snow to collect 1,500 valid voter signatures to be on the ballot against the insiders?

This is not the right way to run a democracy. We need to return to government by the Grass Roots, not by the insiders.

I am a life-long registered Democrat. But I oppose these party insiders denying our community the full process of selecting its mayoral representative.

To protest this elitist abuse of power, I am announcing that I will change my party registration to the Green Party IF the insiders in fact proceed to conduct this special election instead of allowing an open and democratic process leading to a regular election in November.

I feel very comfortable with the Green Party and its platform. I share the Green Party’s focus on the future and its grass roots values of community-based economic justice and opportunity, ecological responsibility and sustainability.

On this basis, I now announce that I will be a candidate in the upcoming special election for Mayor of the City of Rochester.

The City of Rochester needs to spend its energies on those things which enhance the quality of life for the good citizens of Rochester, and not continue to expend its energies on insider machinations for political control.

We need a change of emphasis in the priorities of city government. We should not be bound by the tired approaches of re-tired bankers or re-tired utility company executives.

I will speak today to school issues, to job and economic issues, and to environmental issues.

I oppose the privatization of our schools and other public services, which places public policy and its impacts onto the private profit-making sector. These services should remain in the public sector, where they are accountable to the people’s representatives.

For example, we are here today regarding the announced closing of School #6. This is a model school with a favorable record for families and students.

School #6 is very much part of this community. It is not merely a building. It is a community institution, begun by the community organizing to create this school, and continuing with the ideals of its being a vital part of this very community.

Yet this community institution is slated for closure by Rochester’s school superintendent, who comes from a background that wants executives “to run the business of education.”

By the standard of today’s business practices, a CEO that lays off most of its workers is considered to be a success.  I agree that business aspects of a school system should be run as a business. But the educational and community aspects should be operated under educational and community priorities.

This includes the issue of school closures. I oppose closing this School #6 because the decision focuses on business priorities only, and not on the negative impact of its closure upon educational and community aspects.

For the same reason, I oppose Mayoral Control of our city schools. The elitist operations of City Hall today demonstrate that management there is out of touch with today’s community priorities.

I favor Mayoral Collaboration, not Mayoral Control.

The schools are there for the students and the community, and not for the administrators.

I will work with the city Board of Education and its administration in a collaborative manner, not in a dictatorial manner, always focusing not merely on good business operations, but emphasizing the educational and community functions, which happen to be the whole point of our educational system.

The city is now embarking on over a billion dollars of construction for new school facilities. This construction needs to be accomplished under a “green” approach. This means that we should seek to avoid where possible the capital-intensive approach of demolishing and building anew, in favor of a labor-intensive approach which emphasizes re-use of our buildings.

These monies should include a third of the jobs being designated for city residents. The result will be excellent facilities, while providing for many more jobs and reducing over-all energy consumption in the construction process.

As this campaign progresses, we will present further such plans, which will be both ecologically sustainable and jobs-producing.

Rochester needs a sustainable future, both fiscally and environmentally.

The future of Rochester lies in green, sustainable approaches to every aspect of city involvement. We would get improved results, while paying far less.

For example, the City of Rochester in the year 2010 paid a huge sum of taxpayer monies to Rochester Gas & Electric for its electricity bill.

If we could cut that RG&E bill by 80%, then we would reduce our costs enormously. That would give us a budget surplus, instead of a deficit.

How could we reduce our electricity costs by 80% ? We should replace our current street lighting with new, state-of-the-art LED street lighting, which elsewhere reduces electricity consumption by around 80%.

The capital cost of this changeover can be substantially paid for through programs for this purpose administered by the federal Department of Energy and by NYSERDA, the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority.

Whatever is not covered by these means will easily be covered through a reduced city electric bill from RG&S, over a relatively short payback period. Going forward from that point, we will have a wonderful reduction in cost.

This changeover project alone will create numerous jobs for residents of Rochester, and provide continuing benefit into the future, both fiscally and environmentally.

Rochester was once America’s first boom town and as that city, it built an impressive inventory of well-built Victorian homes. The City of Rochester currently spends about $ 3 million per year to demolish numerous old houses throughout the city, while at the same time many city dwellers live in below-par housing, simply because of their personal economic circumstances.

In our administration as Mayor, we would use some of our streetlight cost saving to pay for city-wide housing repair and preservation subsidies in an amount at least equal to what the city now pays for demolishing houses. This green approach would redirect money away from the waste of demolition into the benefit of ecological re-use, while simultaneously stabilizing our housing stock and making city living much more desirable.

Grass roots democracy and citizen activism have much to teach us about how to construct our future. For example, the planned bus barn boondoggle on Mortimer Street will squander $52 million of taxpayer money.

This huge wasteful spending is undermining efforts to create necessary new downtown housing. This boondoggle has much negative impact and little of positive value to offer the public, which has solidly opposed it. Yet the powers-that-be rejected this sensible widespread public opinion.

The City of Rochester has no official transportation plan which could guide our future in an enlightened manner. I pledge to create that transportation plan, while listening carefully to community input.

In laying out the future of our transportation system, with specific locations for future construction, we will encourage investment by developers who historically will take advantage of well-thought-out transportation systems. We lack these specifics today.

We should reorient our planning to encourage transportation-oriented development, an exciting new fast-growing trend nationally that, so far, is bypassing Rochester.

Rochester needs to construct a sustainable future, both fiscally and environmentally.

As your Green Party candidate for Mayor, I will present further such plans, which will both be ecologically sustainable and jobs-producing.

Then, as your Mayor, and with your support, I will work to give our community that good, green sustainable future.

Harry Davis

January 24, 2011

South Wedge

Rochester, New York


The second, on why labor should support him:

January 10, 2011

Greetings, my Fellow Brothers & Sisters in Labor,
The current fluidity in the Rochester mayoral situation provides an opportunity for the working people
to challenge today’s managerial elitist domination of our city politics.

I present myself as a candidate to be your champion in promoting worker-friendly policies in our city

Our City logo proclaims Rochester as “One City” ― but it is one city for the bosses calling the shots,
and one city for us working folks.

We see this in policies and rhetoric that blame working people for the city’s problems:

• City employees’s salaries too big a budget item? Blame the working folks, not the
manager salaries.
• Teacher salaries take too much budget funding? Blame the teachers, not the
• Pension budget line too high? Don’t blame management, who have today the highest
pensions. Instead, blame the unions.
• Worker health costs too high a budget item? Trim them, even though the workers
need them.
• “Even better,” privatize the jobs and cut them from the city personnel budget, so that
workers will not reap the benefits of laws that protect the interests of workers in the public sector.

What else could we expect from a City power structure that rigs the election process to favor a
multimillionaire former utility executive as Rochester’s Mayor?

We need a Mayor who makes policy decisions not just by handing them down, but by actually
collaborating with the workers “in the trenches.”

Let us not allow a system where the Mayor usurps power and authority from an elected school board,
for example, and controls our city’s education system from the third floor of City Hall.

Elsewhere, that “Mayoral Control” system shuts out teacher and parental input into policies which
govern school operations. We need a Mayor who collaborates with the grass roots.

As we watch the City budget being prepared and presented for the next fiscal year, we can expect to see
workers faulted for the high cost of government and unions blamed for such “excesses.”

This is demagogic and just plain wrong. I seek fairness of treatment for the workers.

Rochester needs good jobs, with fair pay and fair benefits, where workers are not treated as scapegoats
for all sorts of government problems.

I also seek to establish a good climate for entrepreneurs to create new businesses in Rochester. Our
biggest employers are all home-grown. We need to focus on the factors that encourage and facilitate
the origin and development of such job-producing engines right here in River City.

One such factor is the creation of jobs related to the trends of sustainability that represent the future of
the market for new jobs. I will work hard to develop such jobs for our community.

If you wish to maintain essential services at a good level for the community, then I am your Mayor.
If you wish to have an ear in the Mayor’s office friendly to labor, then I am your Mayor.

And if you wish to see Rochester as truly “One City” ― and not one city for the elitist bosses and
then one city for the rest of us ― then I am your Mayor.

I would appreciate your personal support and your labor union’s support in my quest to help you.

I would also appreciate the opportunity to meet and talk with you in person about all this.

Together, we can make Rochester the true community that we all wish to see.

Yours in Solidarity, Unity and Respect,
Harry Davis

11 thoughts on “Harry Davis, seeking Green nomination for Rochester, NY mayor, explains why he is running and why labor should support him

  1. Hillbilly

    Thanks for Green Party post.

    Impressive campaigning.

    What are this Green Party candidate’s academic, and professional qualifications?

    Who is the other Green Party candidate for nomination in this mayoral race?

  2. Green Party Update

    Rocnow and Independent Green Party news (links below) give more background on Green Party candidate Harry Davis

    Rochester businessman Harry Davis is planning to run for mayor of Rochester.

    Davis, 59, a news conference about his candidacy at 4:45 p.m. today, at School 6, 595 Upper Fallhelds Blvd.

    Davis owns Ergoback.com, an Internet company that sells ergonomically designed products.

    Davis said he interviewed with Green party leaders last week and hopes to get their endorsement.

    He also has plans to collect the 1,500 signatures needed to get on the ballot as an independent candidate.



  3. Green Party TV coverage

    Here’s TV news story about Green Party’s Alex White.

    White used City Hall as a backdrop to announce he will seek the Green Party nomination for mayor in the special March 29th election.

    White operates a game store on Monroe Avenue and says the last two mayors have been decided in the Democratic primary. But there won’t be a primary because city council has voted 5-to-4 for a special election instead. White says, “For the City Council and the party to decide that they don’t want even that, a primary, it’s embarrassing enough already that there aren’t challengers. And then to not even to want a primary, they’re really saying ‘we don’t care what people want.’ That attitude is just so frustrating.”


  4. Third Green Party candidate for Mayor

    Green Party may have three candidates seeking mayoral nomination.

    According to the City Paper blog,

    “Meanwhile, the deadline to submit an application to run for mayor on the Green Party line is Sunday. Party reps say that dozens of application forms have been downloaded, and at least three have been submitted. Rochester businessman Alex White has already announced that he would seek the Green Party endorsement.”


  5. Alex White Green Party nomineeion for Mayor

    “Now the people of Rochester have a choice,” The Green Party’s Alex White said in a statement.

    “Despite all the wonderful things about Rochester, our city continues to be plagued by the same problems. Jobs, crime and education continue to be issues that affect those who live and work in the City of Rochester. This campaign will guarantee a realistic conversation about the future of our city.”
    Alex White Green Party candidate for mayor.

  6. Alex White Green Party nominee for Mayor

    During a news conference at Susan B. Anthony Square, White focused on issues of crime, city finances and neighborhoods.

    “The question we should be asking is not how did we get here or who to blame for this, but how do we fix the problems?” White said.

    Legislation setting the March 29 special election takes effect today. The Green Party, labor and some within the Democratic Party have been vocal critics of the process, preferring City Council had appointed a mayor for one year, allowing for primary and general elections to choose the city’s next mayor in the fall. A legal challenge to current acting Mayor Carlos Carballada’s installment under provisions of the city’s emergency plan is pending in state Supreme Court.

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