ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Election Night yielded historic wins for Democrats across Monroe County. Some races completely shattered barriers, ushering in a new wave of leadership in various positions.
Among the races taking such titles, the first-ever teenager elected to serve on the Rochester City School Board, the very district where he graduated last year. And in Irondequoit, the first Black representation for a Town Supervisor, not just in the community, but for that position across the county, as a whole.
At 19-years-old, Isaiah Santiago just became the youngest person to be elected to serve on the Rochester City School Board. He is well-known in his community, named Monroe County’s ‘Citizen of the Year’ last summer, creating a youth-driven organization “We Got This,”and establishing a mental health literacy class for schools within his alma mater district.
“I think if we can put that into education and assure that we’re teaching our young people correctly how to be emotionally intelligent for themselves, we can make a lot of change happen from a root-cause point,” Santiago says.
A national advocate for youth mental health, Santigao was a sophomore in high school when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. This, just one of the driving forces behind his passion for advoacy.
“I think that really ignited a fire within myself understanding that i’m part of the solution when it comes to what’s going on in our community and if i’m part of the solution, i have to decide to either sit and dwell with what i have or to stand up and make the change happen,” says the St. John Fisher freshman, who is currently studying psychology and political science.
Another key race, the Town of Irondequoit’s new supervisor, Andrae Evans, a Democrat — is the first Black person to hold the seat in that position across all of Monroe County. He won against Republican incumbent Rory Fitzpatrick by 540 votes. The retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel knows about civic leadership, having spent in service, including several tours overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“First I am a leader who happens to be Black so that won’t change my perspective. But it is historic because what it says is that people are recognizing the character, that they’re recognizing what they want in a leader to move forward and they’re not relying on how a person looks, or their background or their schooling, or how much a celebrity they are, or not, so I take that trust to heart to do my best for the people,” says LTC Evans.
The largest issues Evans plans to take on once officially in office include first and foremost taxes, then business ‘reinvigoration’, and public safety.
“Looking at are we using the best people and what people we need. For example, the town doesn’t have an economic development person and we need an economic development person in the town. Do we have all the resources in the police that we need? Do we need social workers to manage both the police and the community? How are we supporting youth development? Do we have a strong youth development jobs program?” Evans says.
Thanking his campaign, family, and supporters here at home and across the country, Evans also expressed gratitude to the several unions backing him along the journey.
“I’m a huge supporter of unions and I think that’s really the way of the future,” Evans says.
Additonal information about Election Night coverage can be found here.