Political landscape takes shape for fall elections in Monroe County

The political landscape is starting to take shape for the fall elections with former Gates Town Supervisor Mark Assini announcing plans to run for Monroe County executive and incumbent District Attorney Sandra Doorley announcing a bid for re-election.

Assini last week announced his plans to run for Monroe County executive, setting up what could be an expensive and hard-fought campaign against incumbent Democrat Adam Bello. Bello on Saturday announced that he will seek his second term this year. Bello was elected to the position in 2019 when he defeated Cheryl Dinolfo as she sought her second four-year term.

Last week, Doorley announced that she will seek her fourth term as district attorney. As of yet, there is not an announced challenger to Doorley, a Republican.

Also, last week, the county Republican committee endorsed both as its candidates.

Assini served as town supervisor from 2010 until he resigned in 2018 to take a position as chief administrative officer at American Rock Salt in Livingston County. At a news conference last week at the Gates Town Hall, he said he decided to throw his hat in the ring for the county's top job because he wants to continue to serve the community, "and to be part of the change that we so desperately need."

Mark Assini
Mark Assini

Assini said he believes the county's best years are ahead, despite many residents and businesses still struggling due to the ongoing pandemic, rising crime and ongoing opioid epidemic.

If elected as county executive, Assini said he will "fight in Albany to bring back our fair share of money to help our businesses grow and expand," he said. "We can do better. We will retool the working relationship between county government and the private sector to change from business unfriendly to business friendly."

In her announcement, Doorley said, "With a record-setting number of homicides and an unprecedented number of illegal weapon charges, an experienced District Attorney is more important than ever. I know that I am the right person to continue this work and make this community safer."

Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley speaks with the media after a grand jury indicted Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren on campaign finance fraud connected with her 2017 re-election.
Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley speaks with the media after a grand jury indicted Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren on campaign finance fraud connected with her 2017 re-election.

Across the country, more traditional law-and-order prosecutors, like Doorley, have faced opposition from progressive flanks. In 2019, Doorley handily defeated Shani Curry Mitchell, who ran as a more progressive choice and whose campaign was bolstered by hundreds of thousands of dollars from a political action committee  funded by liberal billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

Doorley first joined the District Attorney's Office in 1992, rose to the ranks as top assistant, and was first elected district attorney in 2011.

Monroe County Executive race

Democratic Committee Chairman Stephen DeVay contended in a statement that Assini is "out of touch with the values of Monroe County voters."

“Since his election in 2019, County Executive Bello has provided common sense solutions tothe issues facing our community," DeVay said. "His 2023 budget passed unanimously, reducing the propertytax rate to its lowest in decades."

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello

At his re-election announcement, Bello said: "Monroe County is looking to the future for the first time in generations. My administration has been laser-focused on protecting and improving the lives of our residents, bettering our local economy, training our workforce and lessening the burden on our taxpayers."

Assini said that he's concerned about the rising violence and brazen crime in the city, but also spoke of the importance of supporting police "to restore dignity to the police profession."

As an elected official, he said, "you are elected to serve the people. Anything less than that, anything less than a full effort is not enough."

A former Monroe County legislator, Assini several times ran for a Congressional seat, losing in 2004 in the primary to Randy Kuhl in the old 29th district, and twice to the late Rep. Louise Slaughter. He nearly defeated her in 2014, losing only by 868 votes. She soundly defeated him in 2016 with 56.2% of the votes.

"We argue too much about politics and not enough about serving people," he said at Monday's news conference. "It's time to start serving people" and to work together to solve the ongoing issues.

Also on Wednesday county Republicans endorsed Family Court Judge Dandrea Ruhlmann for her third term and local lawyer Kristine Demo-Vazquez for a Family Court judgeship. Demo-Vazquez unsuccessfully ran for Family Court in 2022.

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Mark Assini, Sandra Doorley announce bids for Monroe County positions