The primary election may have ended the political circus that has plagued Black government officials in Rochester, NY. A small fraction of residents voted out key players involved in the mounting chaos. June 22 turned into a day of change when voters evicted Mayor Lovely Warren from City Hall and gave Ernest Flagler-Mitchell and Vincent Felder the boot from Monroe County Legislature.
Warren, Flagler-Mitchell, and Felder, who many say was connected to the Gantt machine, found themselves on the chopping block after months of criticism for questionable behavior.
The dysfunction appeared to begin after the police-involved death & cover-up of 41-year-old Daniel Prude. Prude died while in police custody, but the incident was not released publicly for several months. At that time, Warren stated, “I want everyone to understand and be very clear, at no point in time did we feel this was not something we did not want to disclose,”. Then Police Chief La’ron Singletary backed up Warren's claims, ”This is not a cover-up," said Singletary. "Let me be clear when I say that: This is not a cover-up whatsoever.” However, an independent investigation found that there was a cover-up. Attorney Andrew Celli released an 84-page report, Celli stated, “Did officials of City government suppress information about the arrest and death of Daniel Prude between March 23, 2020, when the arrest occurred, and September 2, 2020, when the Prude family publicly released body-worn camera footage of the incident? The straightforward answer is yes. The investigation revealed no explanation that fully accounts for the more than four-month delay between the death of an unarmed man at the hands of Rochester police, and public disclosure of the facts and circumstances under which the death occurred — other than a decision or series of decisions not to make such disclosure.“
Warren is also facing criminal charges for allegedly creating a Political Action Committee (PAC) to funnel money to her re-election campaign to get around campaign finance limits. If convicted, Warren could face time behind bars. However, the final nail in Warren’s political coffin may have stemmed from the arrest of her estranged husband Timothy Granison. Granison was arrested after investigators claimed he was involved in conspiring to distribute illegal drugs.
Warren supporters maintained her innocence and continued to back her for re-election. Reverend Lewis Stewart posted on Facebook that “…She will win. It is in God’s plan.” Unfortunately, God may have disagreed with that statement because City Councilman Malik Evans devoured Warren in the primary election. Evans appeared to secure all of the White vote and half of the Black vote in the battle for the top spot.
Warren’s political buddy Ernest Flagler-Mitchell also helped tarnish the first Black female mayor’s image. Critics were baffled at Warren's silence after Flagler-Mitchell admitted to sending a sexually explicit photo to a young woman. LaKaya Sinclair exposed the married pastor for sending a photo of his penis to her inbox. Flagler-Mitchell claimed the photo was mistakenly sent to Sinclair instead of his wife. The Board of Ethics ruled the Monroe County Legislator violated the code of ethics paving the path to unseated the politician for newcomer William Burgess.
Vincent Felder, the third wheel of the crumbling crew, is gearing up for his replacement by Mercedes Vazquez-Simmons. In the past, Vazquez-Simmons targeted the politician in a Facebook post regarding allegations of him driving “dirty”.
The death of David Gantt may have secured the dismantling of a once-time vibrant team. Now, fresh faces could be responsible for bringing law and order back to politics.