Mark Assini believes he’s the man to lead Monroe County. Here’s why.
ROCHESTER, N.Y. Republican Mark Assini is challenging Democrat Adam Bello for Monroe County Executive.
Assini ran two failed campaigns against Louise Slaughter to represent the 25th Congressional District, losing by less than a thousand votes in one of them. He later served nine years as Gates Town Supervisor before returning to the private sector.
He’s made a good living. He could retire. So why run? That was my first question when I sat down with him on Tuesday.
Mark Assini: “I don’t need to do this. I’m doing this. I’m doing it for one reason and one reason only. I want to make the change that we so desperately need.”
That was Mark Assini’s reply every time I asked him why he’s running for political office again.
After all, he’s leaving a financially comfortable job in the private sector.
Deanna Dewberry: “So what’s the family think about your entering into this arena?”
Assini: “Well they think it’s a genetic disorder, which maybe there’s some truth to that!”
But he believes his business acumen combined with his public sector experience as Gates Town Supervisor make him uniquely qualified to lead the county.
Assini: “Right now I want to talk about growing this economy, and public safety is the other big issue.”
Dewberry: “About public safety, this last [Monroe County] budget dealt with a decrease in taxes while increasing the budget for the Monroe County Sheriff’s office. Do you think that’s not enough?”
Assini: “Both in RPD and in the Sheriff’s Department, I’ve foiled the actual headcount, we’re down from what the budget has called for. They’re having a heck of a time recruiting officers. We have vilified police officers to the point that young people are going, ‘Maybe I’ll go back in the private sector or I’ll go to this company or I’ll do that. I want to restore a sense of pride to the police to let young men and women know that they’re valued, that their service is valued.”
Dewberry: “What you’re talking about is changing hearts and minds. How do you do that?”
Assini: “Change of culture. That’s right. Well, what we did in Gates is we had a collaboration between the police department and the community. Whenever there was an issue, we would go into the neighborhood, sit down and have neighborhood meetings.”
And he believes he is the one to facilitate that collaboration in the community, among those in the opposing party and business leaders.
We chatted for almost an hour. Much of that time was spent talking about jobs. Assini pointed to the fact the county has seen little population growth.
He believes the reason for that is, in part, because the jobs aren’t here. He says the pandemic hit Monroe County hard. And he believes the lack of jobs is at the root of many of the county’s problems.
Dewberry: “You mentioned jobs, but Greater Rochester Enterprises says that 2022 was a banner year for job growth.”
Assini: “God bless them. I know that they’re doing their best, but the truth is that prior to the pandemic, according to the New York State Department of Labor, we’re down 20,000 jobs. That’s huge. I’m in the private sector; I know how challenging it is. We have to do better. We can do better. It’s not that there aren’t good things happening, but we need to do better.”
Dewberry: “So what do you believe you will do better?”
Assini: “So one of the things that I have is experience in both worlds, in the private sector and the public sector. I’ve been a leader in both worlds.”
Assini points to his work in the Rochester Technology Park in Gates. He believes he, in part, is responsible for its success because as the Gates Town Supervisor he was able to form public-private collaborations that solved problems.
Assini: “And my heart is in the right place to be able to make the changes to help this community.”
Asked if he could work with the Democratic leadership in Rochester, he enthusiastically said yes, pointing out that in his own family, he’s the lone Republican and they all get along just fine.
We also asked for comment from current Monroe County executive Adam Bello. We expect Bello to make a formal statement on Thursday, but the Monroe County Democratic Committee released this statement regarding Assini, reading in part, “His votes to raise taxes, cut health care programming, and against funding for Monroe Community College put him on the wrong side of everything Monroe County represents today.”
Click here for the full statement.