ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester City Councilmember Malik Evans held a press conference on Wednesday after he defeated Incumbent Mayor Lovely Warren in the Democratic primary election Tuesday.
“I want to thank Mayor Warren for her classy concession speech last night,” Evans said. “I look forward to working with her over the next six months and I also look forward to continuing talking to her as I transition into the mayor’s office. Being a mayor, as I know, is a difficult job, but its something you don’t know until you get there, but I’m blessed to have known and have great relationships with all the mayors that are currently in Rochester; Johnson, Richards, Duffy, and I hope that I have a strong relationship with Mayor Warren after she ends her term.”
Evans was victorious over Warren with 66% of the vote.
As of June 1, Rochester had 71,442 registered Democratic voters, compared to 10,376 registered Republican voters — so as the winner of Tuesday’s mayoral primary, Evans is the prohibitive favorite to become Rochester’s next mayor heading into November’s general election. As of Wednesday, there is no other candidate running for mayor in the general election.
Warren was unable to weather multiple ongoing controversies in her re-election campaign, including City Hall’s handling of Daniel Prude’s death, her indictment on campaign finance violations, and her husband’s recent arrest on drugs and weapon charges.
During Evans’ campaign he largely avoided calling attention to Warren’s controversies, instead insisting that his message focused on city issues and proposed policies.
“There are a lot of the people on this campaign that we pulled in that do not like politics,” Evans said. “That’s why you saw a campaign that was run on positivity — we never got low. We didn’t pay attention to any of the gurus that were there. We had a mission that we wanted to do and we wanted to to be proud of this campaign. When you get down in the mud, you get mud splashed back at you, and I don’t have any mud on me. Why? Because we kept the campaign positive. We wanted to run a campaign in the same way we would lead this city; organized, disciplined and focused — and that’s what we did in this campaign.”
Evans’ campaigned on reducing city crime with youth-work initiatives, cracking down on guns coming into Rochester, a proposed Senior Stability Fund to aid Rochester’s elderly, and more.
“We must ensure that economic empowerment must be at the center of everything that we do, where we raise the home ownership rates in Rochester, where we bring up the median income in Rochester and we ensure that entrepreneurship is the center of what we do in the City of Rochester,” Evans said in a speech to supporters Tuesday.
Evans was elected to City Council in 2017, and was previously elected to the Rochester Board of Education in 2003 where he would serve as Board President from 2008-2013. Prior to the Board of education, Evans served as a Legislative Aide to City Council from 2000-2002. As a teen, Evans attended Wilson Magnet High School in Rochester.
Although Evans is yet to take office, he says the work begins now.
“We are not sworn in yet, however we will continue to work and advocate for things we think are really important over the next couple moths,” Evans said. “One of the things I am very concerned is the COVID-19 vaccination rate in two of our zip codes. We have two of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in New York state, and I believe that with the 4th of July coming, as well as the summer months, it’s absolutely vital that we ensure that we have herd immunity in those zip codes or otherwise we will slip back. This Delta strain is really seriously and I am deeply concerned about those low vax rates.”
Aside from the pandemic, Evans reiterated his position that the city needs to reduce violence.
“I was very saddened to hear some of the Rochester City School District events are going to be moved inside because of the violence that is happening on our streets,” Evans said. “I know someone was shot last night, so that is something that cannot wait for a new administration. We will have to continue to work with the mayor and her team, and all of us in the community will have to come together and make sure that we immediately address the violence in our streets.
“I witnessed violence, on two different occasions while on the campaign trail, talking to voters and walking down streets,” Evans said. “This is something that is extremely important to me as you know, as a young Black man, growing up in the City of Rochester, I have seen violence firsthand. 17 years old, I had someone killed right outside of my house, literally at my doorstep, so this resonates with me. I am tired of seeing young African-American men being killed early on, and we have to make sure we have a comprehensive strategy for that, and we will be working on those plans now.”
Evans said he looks forward to working with the Monroe County government, County Executive Adam Bello, and the state government to help move the city forward.
“I plan on working with the Bello administration, as well as the state, to advocate on using every tool we have.”
Additionally, Evans said he spoke with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer about how $200 million will be given to the City of Rochester as a result of the American Rescue Plan.
“He [Schumer] pledged his support for the American Rescue dollars that will be coming to Rochester: $200 million,” Evans said. “Things we want to do cost money, and Sen. Schumer made clear to me that he will work with the treasury to make sure we have the flexibility to use those funds for things we believe will move Rochester forward.
“We cannot waste that money, it cannot be thrown away,” Evans said. “We need to make sure we do good things with that money and I hope we can leverage that money, but working with the county and working with the community. It would be a shame o this community if we are not transparent in where that money is going.”