ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) — The balance of power shifted in the Monroe County Legislature Tuesday night, when it comes to some of the sitting members of the Black & Asian Caucus. Two members of that group, Ernest Flagler-Mitchell and Frank Keophetlasy, lost their primary races. Another legislator associated with them, Vince Felder, was also defeated.
Flager-Mitchell lost to William Burgess in the 29th District. Keophetlasy lost to Ricky Frazier in the 28th District. Felder, who often votes with the Black and Asian Caucus, lost to Mercedes Simmons in District 22.
“I think you’re going to see the legislature work more closely with Adam Bello,” says Timothy Kneeland, a political science professor with Nazareth College.
Kneeland says the caucus now serves almost as a roadblock to the County Executive. He says with these key Democrats in the Black and Asian Caucus losing, Democrats and others are likely to find common ground ahead.
Kneeland says the caucus formed, they said, to help out urban citizens in their districts who were underserved. But last night, Kneeland says those voters spoke loud and clear.
“And the people said very strongly in some cases two to one, that ‘no, you are not serving us, you were serving yourselves,” he says.
The Black and Asian Caucus sending out a statement today saying they’re disappointed with the results last night, but they’ve been proud of the work they’ve been able to do and will continue to work. Kneeland says this shakeup could also mean good news when it comes to working with the city… with Councilman Malek Evans winning the primary last night over Mayor Lovely Warren.
“Malek has seen himself as a bridge-builder,” says Kneeland.
Evans saying there’s a lot to do…but also reminds us, he’s not been sworn in yet. “And there’s a lot of work to and I want to be clear that I am not going to be able to do this alone. There is no ‘me’ it’s ‘we,'” says Evans.
Kneeland said a good number of these candidates will likely win in November, some are facing no opposition, but he says with politics— anything can change.
FULL STATEMENT FROM BLACK AND ASIAN CAUCUS:
The Black and Asian Democratic Caucus of the Monroe County Legislature is disappointed
in the results of Tuesday’s primary elections but we are proud of the work we have been able to do over the last year and a half. We created the Caucus as a way to amplify the voices of our constituents that had been underserved and ignored for too long. We were able to achieve feats such as being the leading voices for the creation of the Department of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, creating a fund for indigent burials for families who would otherwise struggle to pay their last respects to loved ones, paving the way for minority- and women-owned businesses in Monroe County to have a seat at the table when County contracts are considered, and securing funding for minority-run fine arts organizations in the County struggling during the pandemic. However, our work is not done. Over the last several months of the Legislature’s session, we will continue to champion for the people of our districts. We have been attacked and accused of using this Caucus as a political ploy to serve other politicians. This is false. We created the Black and Asian Democratic Caucus for the people of Rochester and believe that over the last nine months we have been better equiped to fulfill our pledges as elected officials and for the next six we will continue the fight. We wish the best to the members of the Legislature’s next session and pray that Rochester and Monroe County will flourish. People’s lives can always be improved, and local government is the best place to do it. In the words of Rochester’s own Frederick Douglass, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”