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Democrats snub incumbents in upcoming elections


The Monroe County Democratic Committee is withholding its support from several incumbents, including four county legislators and a City Council member.

Which candidates the party will back is determined through a process in which party insiders representing legislative districts cast their vote for their choice. Winning candidates have to receive a simple majority of the vote.

The party announced its selections in a news release Thursday.

Notably absent from the list were county legislators Rachel Barnhart, Mercedes Vazquez-Simmons, Carolyn Delvecchio-Hoffman, and William Burgess, all of whom represent areas of Rochester. City Councilmember Jose Peo, who represents the northwest portion of the city, also did not make the cut.

“Local election years are some of the most influential races that we have,” MCDC Chair Stephen DeVay said in a statement. “People elected to local office have the most direct tie to their community and the most direct impact on the lives of their neighbors."

Barnhart was a vocal critic of early plans to redraw the boundaries of legislative districts that were supported by many establishment Democrats, including County Executive Adam Bello.

This year, she is running to represent the 17th Legislative District, which stretches from the North Winton Village into Irondequoit. Barnhart currently represents the 21st District, and previously represented a portion of what is now in the 17th District.

“Designations don’t mean anything,” Barnhart said. “If they did, we would not have Malik Evans, (Assemblymember) Demond Meeks, (Assemblymember) Sarah Clark, or so many other candidates who did not receive the designation in office.”

The Democratic Committee endorsed Allan Richards, a longtime legislative aide for Assemblyman Harry Bronson, for the 17th Legislative District. Meanwhile, Jessie Parson was given the party nod for Vazquez-Simmons’s seat, Nadja Justice for Hoffman’s seat, and Candice Lucas for Burgess’s seat.

The party also endorsed former County Legislator Frank Keophetlasy for the City Council seat held by Peo. Incumbent City Councilmembers Mary Lupien, LaShay Harris, and Michael Patterson all received the party’s support.

The party offered no designation for a Democratic candidate to challenge District Attorney Sandra Doorley, who announced her run for a fourth term last month.

Monroe County Republican Chair David Dunning said he expects his party to issue designations in late March.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or [email protected].