Commerce in the Community: Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren on Public Service and Expanding Opportunity in Her City
Ed. Note: This post is part of the Commerce in the Community series highlighting the work of community leaders and organizations that are strengthening the middle class and providing ladders of opportunity for all Americans.
Below is an interview with Rochester, New York Mayor Lovely Warren. A Rochester native, Mayor Warren served as President of the Rochester City Council prior to the start of her first term as Mayor in 2014. This interview is part of the Commerce Department’s participation in Public Service Recognition Week.
Q1: What inspired you to pursue public service?
When I was in college, I never saw myself pursuing a career in public service. In fact, I had a lifelong desire to become a prosecutor. When I was 7 years old, my grandfather was shot while working security at a local grocery chain. He almost died, but thankfully he pulled through. From that moment on, I pursued a dream of becoming a prosecutor so I could bring people, like the man who shot my grandfather, to justice.
After college I went to law school and was still hoping to become a prosecutor. But fate had other plans for me. I took an internship with New York State Assemblyman David Gantt, and my life was forever changed. Working for Assemblyman Gantt, I got my first introduction to the world of public service. Not only did I see how laws are actually created and executed on the state level, but I also got to see how elected officials help their constituents. People would call Assemblyman Gantt’s office when they were out of options, and we were their last hope. I helped people who were about to lose their homes due to foreclosure, people who needed guidance on how to navigate the legal system, people who wanted to start a business, and people who were being taken advantage of by slumlords. I was amazed at the incredible diversity of issues that are brought to elected officials. But more importantly, I was impressed by the incredible potential elected officials have to positively impact the lives of so many people, particularly the poorest citizens, who often don’t have access to the knowledge and resources that more affluent citizens may enjoy.
That is still what motivates me to get up and go to work every morning; the opportunity to positively impact the lives of city residents.
Q2: As Mayor of Rochester, what are your key priorities for expanding economic opportunity?