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Harry Davis for Rochester City Council

August 9th, 2009

Vote For Trains... Uh, err, I mean Change!

On September 15, 2009, there’ll be a gentleman on the Democratic primary ballot for Rochester City Council. Harry Davis is a big advocate for Rochester, sustainable urban planning, and rail transit …That’s all it took for us to take notice. Mr. Davis doesn’t have a long political resume or a lot of connections with big names. He’s a graduate of Brighton High School (1969), owned an antique store on Park Avenue, ran a small alternative Rochester newspaper called The Journal, and traveled around a bit while working as a video producer for Greenpeace. From my brief conversation with Mr. Davis, I’d say whatever he lacks in political experience he more than makes up for with heart and enthusiasm. Take this self-produced anti-RenSquare ad for instance…

Now come on, whatever you may have thought about the whole Renaissance Square debacle, you’ve got to appreciate the creativity behind that! And here’s a political spot for his run for City Council…

Okay, enough background info. We asked Mr. Davis a few questions—so read up and post your comments…

ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: Mr. Davis, what are the key differentiators between you and your opponent(s)?

Harry Davis: I am really the only person, candidate or sitting member of city council, or Mayor, who has taken such a strong, clear, active role against ren square for such a long time—since 2003. In the Democratic caucus meetings held in April & May, I never heard any of the 20 or so competitors for city council speak out against ren square. I felt as if I was the one who was the fool, making all the noise; however, at every meeting, which included at each about 30-40 people, I always asked them, “How many of you favor ren square?” So, out of a season total of about 250 people, only 6 hands were raised in favor!

I was the lonely voice in this process that already had the fix in before the first vote was taken. Hence, I am in the Dem primary now and I am also endorsed by the Working Families Party (WFP). I got the WFP endorsment by telling them I am against Ren Square and I will work with the unions to build something better.

I strongly propose a city wide charrete now to figure out what to do with downtown. (see
Harry Davis Letter to Mayor Duffy external link, For Rochester, Regarding plans for Renaissance Square external link, ‘Harry Davis letter to the Democrat & Chronicle external link, and For Rochester, Regarding plans for Renaissance Square external link)

I think we need to open up the High Falls area in conjunction with the High Speed Rail.
(see Train Station Options Unveiled, by Alan Morrell (D&C) external link)

In the beginning of this year, I made a plan — part of it was to run for Mayor of Rochester to push Mayor Duffy as hard as I could on Ren Square. I also planned to run for city council. In April, we made a series of robo calls to Duffy’s office against Ren Square. On April 22, he gave into our demands and anounced he would not give up Mortimor!

When it was announcd on July 17 that I was running for Mayor, I immediately went to the Board of Elections and signed a document of declination. My campaign manager, Minister Lee Evans demanded that I do this. (see Davis is a rarity in local politics external link and
Mayoral candidate to stick with City Council run external link)

ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: In an online comment on the City Newspaper’s web site, you recalled that Rochester once had a “Real transit system” that included a subway and beautiful train stations. Is this simply nostalgia, or do you believe we have some level of “rebuilding” to do?

Harry Davis: It is a bit nostalgic, but we will have another chance (if we get some $$) to go in a forward direction, to build a better Rochester which includes High Speed Rail. I am a strong advocate for bringing HSR to Rochester. This is a huge part of our campaign. HSR would be the single biggest economic development for upstate New York in 150 years – since the Erie Canal. If people can one day work in NYC and live in Rochester, or Victor & commute, this will bring a huge amount of good, smart development, to Rochester and other cities on the rail. The Erie Canal made the American west of it’s day. Transportation historically brings development. We can have smart software companies develop all over the state and get us out of our depression. JOBS! (see High Speed Rail: Update: When You’re Getting High-speed Rail external link)

ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: You were against the Renaissance Square project but a supporter of High Speed Rail. In your opinion, do either of these projects supersede the other, or should they be considered as part of a greater initiative?

Harry Davis: I am happy we killed ren square. I am not happy that we have such a mess to fix right now. But with this change comes opportunity if we choose to take it! Mayor Duffy’s August 17 meeting of developers without including Bill Reed external link is to me, a possible repeat of Maggie’s 1,000 fast ferries external link.

I need your help to hold our own telephone town hall meeting on this subject. We have the tools to do this. I want to bring Evan Lowenstein external link, Roger Brown external link, Joni Monroe external link, and Bill Reed external link together on the telephone for two hours. We put out robo calls to all Dems in Rochester & we get 50 people or so to join in. By taking part in this type of exercise (known as a design charrette) with our own very qualified local experts such as Lowenstein & others we can create an approach that “engages the community in a process of rediscovery of the attributes that have formed the City… and address the best potential for the use and design of the Renaissance Square site. It can be done in a way that unites people around common ideas rather than compromise and argue over ideas that do not have the generative power of meaningful purpose.

ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?

Harry Davis: Thank you for this opportunity. We need manpower & money to win this election. To volunteer or donate to this campaign, visit www.harry2009.com external link. If anyone wants to speak with me, please don’t hesitate to email me at Vote4Harry@gmail.com or call me, Harry Davis, at 585-301-3896.

ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: Mr. Davis, thank you and good luck.

NOTE: If you’ve got a question that we didn’t ask in our interview, please leave a comment at the end of this post and we’ll pass it along to Mr. Davis who will do his best to answer it as time permits.

RELATED: Harry recently called WCMF and talked about everything from high-speed rail to last week’s “police riot”. Listen at WCMF.com external link

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This entry was posted on Sunday, August 9th, 2009 at 10:19 pm and is filed under Interviews, Rochester News, Video. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “Harry Davis for Rochester City Council”

  1. Bob says:

    Ugh, I’m having a real hard time getting a comment through. Twice I wrote long eloquent addresses, but let’s just see if this works.

    1. Why did Harry Davis dodge the regional rail question?

    2. He has an inflated view of what high speed rail is going to be through the Empire Corridor. Commuting to NYC is totally out of the question.

  2. Jeff says:

    Why would a commute between NYC and Rochester be out of the question? I know of a handful of professors who teach at RIT and UofR during the week and live in the city… of course they fly, but I can totally see conducting business in Rochester for few days a week and then Amtrakking it back to NYC. 4 hours or whatever it’d be is certainly better than the current 7 or 8.

  3. Harry Davis says:

    Hello, Bob,

    I am not dodging any question. The “regional rail question” was not posed to me. Perhaps you would like to ask me?

    On another subject, New York State Governor Paterson this week asked for nearly $600 million for NYS HSR. About $116 million of this money is for Rochester. Now we can use this money to put our workers back to work and build a real rail!

    NY Asking For Nearly $600 Million For High-Speed Rail http://harry2009.com/node/229

    Here are some more HSR stories including:

    “The New York Rail Plan will enhance the region’s Essential New York Initiative®, a unique and innovative.”

    http://harry2009.com/node/54

    Don’t forget to listen to the Bob Smith Show, WXXI AM 1370AM this Monday, August 31 at 12:45PM. I will be on radio, taped, for 10 minutes & I talk about HSR.

    Harry Davis on Bob Smith Show Monday, August 31 at 12:45 p.m.

    http://harry2009.com/node/236

    Please vote Harry Davis for Rochester City Council in the September 15 Democratic Primary.

  4. Bob says:

    Harry,

    I suppose the question wasn’t sharply pointed.

    “ROCHESTERSUBWAY.COM: In an online comment on the City Newspaper’s web site, you recalled that Rochester once had a “Real transit system” that included a subway and beautiful train stations. Is this simply nostalgia, or do you believe we have some level of “rebuilding” to do?”

    To me this requires a response including some treatment of an enhanced regional system, not just a jump to a State/National program that will be driven by Congressmen, not City Councillors.

    You won’t find a bigger urban/transit advocate than me, but I want to know what you have to say about recentralization.

    -Bob

  5. Harry Davis says:

    Bob,
    I think we need the whole enchilata; inter-modal at the Amtrak, light rail from the lake to points south. This work can rebuild Rochester and put the unions back to work, the ones who hate me (& us) because of our opposition to ren square. It is nostalgia but we need to get Duffy to the 21st century. I had dinner tonight with Darryl Porter (Duffy’s main assistant) and Darryl said, again, the developers need to come to the table. D said we do not need anymore charrettes. I disagreed and asked him to ask Mayor Duffy to make me Special Asst top Mayor Duffy after this election so I can inspire some creativity in this uncreative administration.

    http://www.harry2009.com/node/326

    I was born & raised in Rochester. I remember downtown Rochester, Sibley’s at Christmas time, picking my grandmother up at the Lehigh Railroad station, listening to top notch live jazz at the Top of The Plaza Midtown. That Rochester is now history and in its place lies a downtown wasteland.

    Four years ago, I watched at every debate as Mayoral candidate Robert Duffy campaigned, “Rochester is a jewel; it just needs to be dusted off.” I told Mr. Duffy at every debate that ren square is the white elephant in the room. It must be put down. It is now four years later and any jewel that lies beneath downtown Rochester has yet to be dusted off! Yes, the albatross of ren square has finally bitten the dust but why did it take another four years for our city leadership to do this? Rochester has had an elected body of Democrats governing it for a long time now but I have witnessed two Mayors and many city council members who have let themselves be led by the Republicans of Monroe County, insisting that a $ 1/4 billion bus gargage at Main & Clinton was the answer to bringing jobs & prosperity to our city.

    This past July, petitions were presented to the Board of Elections with about 1,700 signatures nominating Chris Edes for school board and me, Harry Davis for Mayor of Rochester. I want to thank all of those people who supported this effort. I declined this draft for the Mayor’s office deciding instead to place all of our efforts to winning a seat on the Rochester City Council. I was criticized by local media for being too “persistent and passionate.” It was said that “once he latches onto an idea, he never lets go.” But the local media supported all of those who are responsible for the past four years! I say that endorsing the status quo is tantamount to having things remain the same. Rochester is in severe crisis with dwindling funds available and deserves critical introspection of where it is going. The future of the core of Rochester has been in a vacuum for too long. The Democratically led city let itself be held hostage by the Republican-controlled county. My position on Renaissance Square has been exactly the same since 2003.

    When I was interviewed by the Editorial Board of the Democrat & Chronicle for this election, their concern was about the $24 million that will not arrive due to the end of RenSquare. I said building RenSquare was akin to building the expressway through Corn Hill. If I and others had been listened to, we could have a strong center city today with plenty of jobs. I said “What about the $20 million that has been wasted by Maggie Brooks on this failed project?

    I have been calling for Mayor Duffy to bring intelligent advice to the development of downtown. I do not think that moving a bus station 20 feet north and 30 feet west is the way to plan a city. I have called for Bill Reed to come to Rochester and work with Roger Brown, Evan Lowenstein & others and get Rochester to throw all its weight behind the work of the Rochester Regional Community Design Center. Specifically their 2008 Vision Plan (http://www.rrcdc.org/products_downtown.html). It’s a comprehensive look at what we can do to make Rochester not just livable, but make it a shining model for the 21st century. We need to make the city much more pedestrian friendly and focus on connecting it’s neighborhoods. This plan is a blueprint for how we do that.

    It’s time to get serious about reshaping downtown. The city needs to make the RRCDC their right-hand-man and they need to get the business community excited about the 2008 Vision Plan.

    Roger Brown and the RRCDC use much of their time to advocate for smart urban design and to wisely inform the design of commercial development in our city. Here’s a specific example where the city failed to listen. So I’m left to wonder if we’re serious about reshaping downtown, or if the City just likes to talk a big game?? What is the Mayor doing to make certain that this vision becomes reality?

    We now must look past ren square and decide how to create jobs. President Obama has $8 billion in stimulus money for high speed rail. I say let’s use this money to rebuild Rochester into a world class city. Don’t blow our second chance for jobs. High-speed rail is the biggest economic development for upstate in 150 years, since the Erie Canal.

    I know the building trade unions need to get to work. I say let’s forget the past and work together to bring sustainable, green jobs to Rochester now.

    I don’t want to see another 4 years go by with downtown Rochester looking just like it did four years ago. I will be responsible for Rochester’s rebirth or I will not consider another run for office. Please hold me accountable.

    Thank you.
    Harry2009.com


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