COVID, violence among new Rochester mayor’s ‘immediate’ priorities

Local Politics

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester Mayor Malik Evans hosted a press conference at City Hall Monday afternoon on his first full day in office, where he discussed objectives for the first weeks of his term and immediate short term goals.

“We must confront and address the most urgent needs in Rochester,” Evans said. “On my first day in office, this has not been a great day, but it’s important to be here on my first day and set a tone with the media, and by extension the public. In this administration, we will have every intention of operating with the spirit of transparency so we can build trust with the community.”

The mayor expressed his condolences for what he described as a “double tragedy” for the Leadership Academy for Young Men, a Rochester City School District school.

Two students of that school died this weekend: 14-year-old Julius Greer Jr. was shot and killed in the area of North Street and Herald Street and 17-year-old Derrick Watson died of COVID Saturday, school officials announced.

“This is heartbreaking, and my heart goes out to that school,” Evans said. “We’re dealing with a double pandemic in our community right now: Violence and COVID. It’s not me, it’s we and we must deal with these things as a community. The community has to own these challenges, which is good news because it means the community also owns the solutions. There is no community better suited than Rochester.”

The mayor called on community members with knowledge of crime to come forward with that information.

“Someone knows who shot a 14-year-old,” Evans said. “There is someone who knows that, and they have to come forward, anonymously. This mother deserves justice for her baby. If you know something, say something. There is no honor in silence that leads to death. We should not be starting off 2022 with tragedy like this.”

Regarding the ongoing pandemic, the mayor reiterated common sentiments regarding precautionary measures to reduce the spread of the virus and subsequent hospitalizations.

“We all know what we need to do,” Evans said. “We need to get vaccinated, get boosters, wear our masks, wash our hands. We’re doing what we can do help people, and I now every is tired of this. I hate wearing masks, but I continue to do it for others who may be immunocompromised. We have to make sure we don’t let our guard down.”

While the mayor acknowledged that the pandemic and violence remain of immediate concern, he said other issues are still being worked on, including filling city appointments, city court operations, the proposed UBI pilot program, the RASE commission, and more.

“Rochester has been on the verge of greatness for too long,” Evans said. “We are so close to a tipping point, and when that moment of opportunity takes over it creates our own opportunity, but we can’t just sit back and wait.”

Other topics the mayor discussed in Monday’s press conference included an endorsement for test to stay to keep Rochester City School District Schools students in class, and the city acquiring KN95 masks to distribute to frontline businesses and residents.

The former City Councilmember was sworn into office as Rochester’s 71st mayor on Saturday where he shared his thoughts in an event that was streamed online live for residents due to an increased risk of COVID-19 infections in the area.

He ran unopposed in November’s general election for Rochester mayor after his decisive victory over Lovely Warren in last June’s Democratic primary where he carried nearly 66% of the vote.

Watch the full press briefing

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