Harry Davis for Rochester City Council

Harry Davis for Rochester City Council

This article was scraped from Rochester Subway. This is a blog about Rochester history and urbanism has not been published since 2017. The current owners are now publishing link spam which made me want to preserve this history.. The original article was published August 09, 2009 and can be found here.

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     ,      For Rochester, Regarding plans for Renaissance Square     ,      'Harry Davis letter to the Democrat & Chronicle     , and      For Rochester, Regarding plans for Renaissance Square     )

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)     )

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     and
     Mayoral candidate to stick with City Council run     )

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     )

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     is to me, a possible repeat of Maggie's      1,000 fast ferries     .

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     ,      Roger Brown     ,      Joni Monroe     , and      Bill Reed     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     . If anyone wants to speak with me, please don't hesitate to email me at       [email protected]     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

Chris Gemignani

Chris Gemignani

Rochester, NY, USA