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Grandfather serves as inspiration for mayoral candidate

Rochester, N.Y. He was right alongside her during her victory speech Tuesday night and he has been beside her all her life.

Cecil McClary Sr. is the 89-year-old grandfather of the woman who may become the first female mayor in the history of RochesterLovely Warren.

[Being up on that stage] was a wonderful experience, McClary recalled. That was wonderful, but I was looking forward to it. It didn't really surprise me that she won. I know that whatever you set your goal for, with the help of god, you can.

Warren won the democratic primary in a huge upset.

She credits her victory to hard work and believing in herselfqualities she learned from her family and her grandfather.

They just told me to believe and that's what the concept of this campaign was really about, Warren said. They always instilled in us that we could accomplish whatever we set our mind to because of their history.

Warren often speaks about her grandfather in speeches and says he has helped her become the person she is today.

He wanted us to never forget where we came from and to be appreciative for what we currently have, she said.

A particular incident in the 1980s changed her life forever.

At the time, McClary was a security guard at a Wegmans in the west side of the city. He was trying to stop at person who had stolen something from the store when he was shot four times. Decades later, those bullets are still inside him.

Warren was eight years old and remembers thinking that her grandfather was going to die.

I remember that day like it was yesterday, she said. That experience led me to want to become an attorney and gave me a sense of justice. My aunt said, We don't know if he's going to make it. That feeling you get, that so many other families in our city get--- you never forget.

McClary moved to Rochester more than 50 years ago. He was a sharecropper in South Carolina when he decided to move his eight children and wife to New York, but their fresh start didnt go according to plan.

Warren explains that her grandfather was jailed because the landowner said McClary still owed him money. His wife had to work to pay off the debt little by little and get him out of jail.

McClary says he never got a formal education but knew what it was like to work hard so he could put food on the table for his children.

Still, it was always his dream that his children and grandchildren would go to school and get a proper education.

I believe that was my dream because I always wanted them to be smart enough for them to do what they wanted to do, McClary said.

With a granddaughter who has met those wishes and more, he says he couldnt be more proud. He says he believes Warren can become the next mayor and he reminds her to never stop believing it herself.

I always tell them Don't let criticism stop you from pulling your goal. I knew they could if they were to try. I always said, God will help you to do what you want to do if you trust him.

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Washington Times