Joseph Avenue Christmas is the story of one man's journey to the true meaning of Christmas. Not just the birth of the babe, but the salvation of the soul. Set on the wintry streets of Rochester, NY it is a visit to the heart of that city and the hearts of some of its best and bravest people. From their good example, and the simple lessons of their own lives and faith, a troubled man finds on a dark Christmas Eve an escape from an increasingly failed life.
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It was a Lovely evening in Rochester.
In an historic thunder stroke, a girl from the 19th Ward won her party’s nomination for mayor.
By a landslide.
The party chair got slapped, the dowager congresswoman was rejected, the lieutenant governor was proven irrelevant.
She walked into the polling place with her husband by her side and her daughter in her arms, and she walked out her city’s first female mayor.
Or at least she will be in January.
In a stunning rejection of the party establishment, and a firm “No, thank you” to a well-respected incumbent, history was made.
The newspaper said she was polling more than 2-to-1 behind her opponent, and conventional wisdom wrote her off, but that didn’t stop the people in neighborhoods who turned out to support her. On a day when apathy defined the electorate – there was record low turnout – the few who cared, cared passionately, and by an almost 60-40 split they wanted Lovely Warren.
There’s still a general election, but it’s against a non-entity, and the handwriting is on the wall. Tom Richards – the trounced incumbent – is on two other lines, and could still be a candidate in the general election, but that wouldn’t be particularly honorable.
Yesterday was the election, and everyone knows that. Repackaging Tom Richards as an Independence or Working Families candidate would be political opportunism and it would smack of desperation. Yesterday was the election, and everyone knows that.
Rochester has elected its first female mayor, she may also be its youngest mayor, and she will be its second black mayor – the first black mayor to have grown up here and be a product of Rochester schools and neighborhoods.
Race was a big factor in this election, so was a generational shift.
Lovely Warren is young and black; Tom Richards is old and white. Her supporters were overwhelmingly black; his supporters were overwhelmingly white.
She sits as president of City Council, a 9-person body with just one white male and five members of color. He leads an administration with two prominent people of color and a whole bunch of middle-aged white guys.
But he had the money and the incumbency and the big backers. She had her personality, accomplishment and tenacity. She also had Adam McFadden and David Gantt.
McFadden is her colleague, Gantt is her patron.
He has been her patron and employer since she was a college student. Some fear he pulls the strings on her. He has been a powerful member of the state Assembly for more than a generation. His grip on Rochester’s black neighborhoods is legendary. He has run a protégé for mayor before, but this is his first win.
And only time will tell if it was his win or Lovely Warren’s win. Only time will tell if she governs independently or if he has undue influence.
Only time will tell if Lovely Warren can do as she promised – bridge the gap between what she called the two Rochesters. Two Rochesters as defined by emphasis – downtown or the neighborhoods – or by economics and race. In recent weeks the clear trend has been Lovely Warren signs on the west side and Tom Richards signs on the east side.
Yesterday, Rochester was definitely a west side town.
Going forward, Rochester will be a different kind of town. With a population that is majority non-white, it has chosen a mayor who looks more like itself. Lovely Warren’s personal background, as well as her work with David Gantt and on City Council, will orient her in a way that perhaps a wealthy white former CEO could never understand. Lovely Warren’s victory is a victory for a race and a culture and a heritage that sometimes feel slighted in the conduct of Rochester’s affairs.
Her victory – if she in fact presses on to become mayor – is different from that of Bill Johnson. He was a transplanted southerner from something of the paper-bag class, come to Rochester with a good education and a good job to save the locals.
He did that, and he was black, but the culture and background of Lovely Warren are not just black, they are Rochester black. She is a daughter of our town and true proof that someone from here – a regular girl from here – can succeed professionally, personally and politically. She didn’t come with a silver spoon, but she does have the key to the city.
And she won in a landslide.
On a day when nobody outside her circle gave her the slightest chance of winning, she blew Tom Richards out of the water.
It is a thunderous and historic victory.
And she earned it herself.