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Voters and candidates head to the polls for primary day

September 12, 2017 06:33 PM

The three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor made their way to the polls on Tuesday.

In the race, former police chief James Sheppard and former television journalist Rachel Barnhart is challenging Mayor Lovely Warren.

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Mayor Warren voted Tuesday afternoon at the Frederick Douglass Middle School. Speaking with reporters, the mayor said people need only look around the city to determine the job she has done.

She points to development in every quadrant of the city and the reorganization of the police department to better respond to crime. She also points to the dramatic increase in enrollment in the headstart program.

Challenger Rachel Barnhart says her campaign has been all about challenging the status quo and she's confident that people will vote for the change she represents. Monroe County legislator and former Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard says the characteristics that set him apart from his opponents: Integrity and leadership experience.

"To me this is not just a popularity contest, it's really about being the CEO of an organization," says Sheppard. "When you look for the CEO of an organization, you look for past success. You don't look for someone who has no experience or someone who's had failed opportunity."

"Thousands of people will set aside cynicism and vote for change today and vote for a better future for Rochester," says Barnhart. "One that guarantees child care for parents… One that has broadband internet for everyone… One that prioritizes locating jobs on transit lines. I am so proud of our message."

The mayor says, "I am hopeful that the voters, the Democratic voters, see the work that we've been able to do on behalf of the city. But that's the reason why we continue to go out and we continue to talk to people because I don't think you can take anything for granted."

Voter turnout

As of 5 p.m., 14.7 percent of Democrats had turned out in Rochester for the mayoral primary.

The highest turnout we've seen in decades for a Democratic primary is only 36 percent -- which doesn't sound great but it would be very surprising if we reached that on Tuesday.

Our crews saw a fairly steady stream of voters coming and going from some of the polling places on Tuesday. The commissioner at the Board of Elections tells us he's hopeful the numbers will be higher because there has been no major poll for this race, so really voters and the candidates have no idea where they stand in the race.

"We really believe that sometimes when voters are left with the perspective that kind of the race is over with, they tend to stay home and that doesn't seem to have been the case this year," says Board of Elections Democratic Commissioner Thomas Ferrace. "Which we're really glad about because we think that means something."

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