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Former Rochester mayor weighs in on Warren win
Rochester, N.Y. Former Mayor Bill Johnson says he was about shocked as most people when he heard Tuesday evening that Lovely Warren was able to upset incumbent Mayor Tom Richards in the Democratic primary race.
He recalls the time when he tried to discourage Warren from even running this year.
People myself told her this wasn't the year to run, he explained. It's hard to beat an incumbent. She took all that in stride and she went out, formed a CAMPAIGN, worked hard and found her voters. She got them to the polls and she won.
Back in 1993, Johnson pulled somewhat of an upset himself during the mayoral Democratic primary. He was not the favored candidate to win, but he beat all his opponents and then later on went on to become the mayor of Rochester.
However, Johnson said his story is not parallel to Warrens. He believes her accomplishments are far greater.
I cannot underestimate the significance [of Warrens win], he said. This is probably one of the greatest political upsets in local history if not the greatest. I was in a race with five people, so we had people splitting the vote. This was a head-to-head race. She ran where there was an incumbent and trounced the incumbent.
Johnson says there were no incumbents running in his primary race in 1993 and he says his odds were better.
Now that Warren has won the primary, he says that she could be a good mayor and bring fresh perspectives in finding the solution to the problems that plague the city. He also said it would be nice to have young blood in City Hall.
We need to get young people involved and we now have a young person who's at the helm who is going to tap into the talent and knowledge of young people.
Despite what some people have speculated, Johnson says he doesnt think Warrens longtime mentor and supporter State Assemblyman David Gantt would heavily influence her while she is running the city. He believes Warren has her own mind and wouldnt let that happen.
I think in some ways David is misunderstood by people, Johnson said. People who create an image that David will have a key to city hall, I think is just wrong. Hes not that kind of person.
During a conversation with 13WHAM Wednesday, Gantt told us he plans to stay as far away from city hall as possible.
Its yet to be seen if Richards will continue on until the November election. While he lost the Democratic primary, he still has the option of running on two different party lines.
Johnson says he doesnt think Richards should run anymore.
I don't think Tom Richards has it in him to be mean-spirited and to be a spoiler, Johnson said. Tom is a great person and I hate to see his political career end like this. He has made significant contributions to this community. He served in a public capacity and he didn't have to. We owe him a great debt for the service he has given us.