On the Record with City Council President Loretta Scott


Rochester City Council President Loretta Scott have been active in the community for many years, acquiring extensive experience in the public, not-for-profit and private sectors.

In a sit-down interview, let’s learn more about city councilwoman Scott, who have committed a considerable part of her life serving the people of Rochester.

Southwest Tribune: Graduated from SUNY Empire State with a B.S. degree?

Scott: I didn’t take the traditional path of most students seeking a college degree. It took me forever. I was a single parent. I had to leave school to work. There was no college in there. I went to SUNY Empire State, which is an independent study, because I worked full-time and sometimes double full-time. I didn’t have the opportunity to ‘just’ devote time to college studies. It was a journey. I will go for a year or so. Then, I wouldn’t go the following year. And sometimes, I’ll only go for a few months. So, it took many years, and I value it all the more.

Southwest Tribune: Working for the city for more than 30 years?

It has been such an honor and privilege working for the city. I’ve worked here so long, and I’ve seen so much that it’s sometimes hard to separate a part of who I am, when I look at Rochester as a town and its residents. And I’m excited about the future of this city as I ever have been in all those years. I’ve never seen Rochester progress at the speed it’s progressing currently, and I’m thrilled by that.

Southwest Tribune: Police Accountability Board (P.A.B.)?

Scott: The Police Accountability Board is a concept whose time has really come. We’ve been doing civilian review for many years. However, we’ve not done it with subpoena power and disciplinary authority within the current system.

Rochester was earlier than others doing this kind of review through the Center for Dispute Settlement. But we’re in a new era, it didn’t go far enough. And we see nationally there’s clearly a need for some other level of accountability on the part of law enforcement.

So, I’m a strong advocate of a P.A.B. such as the one we’re considering, but we got to do it right. We did encounter two distinctive opinions rather or not we could legally do disciplinary authority and subpoena power. The city corporation counsel said [they’re provisions that prohibit that.] The outside council said, [we can do it if we change the Charter].

We know, there will be a push-back regardless of whether or not it could legally be done. We know that and expect it. And we’re going to move forward regardless. We will push through, but we’ve to get a model we’re comfortable with. We look to be back on top of it in the next couple of weeks and share it with the public.

Southwest Tribune: Prosecutorial Conduct?

Scott: We need to have a little more confidence in the system that exists, so when it appears our judicial system is not working as it is design, and it’s working against the interest of some, there’s a need to have something done about it. And it was evident there were cases, when they may have been evidence that should’ve been submitted that wasn’t. And what was being held and not being presented would have benefited the defense. There should be some consequence when prosecutors do that.

Southwest Tribune: What’s currently happening around city council?

Scott: We’ve approved the budget. And we’re looking at some opportunities to strengthen that process; especially as it relates to our interaction with the city school district’s budget.

Adam McFadden, vice-president of city council, who’s an accountant and chair of the budget and finance committee is leading the way to have some more steps added to the process we have right now. Our legislative process is moving along well. Contrary to what some people think, we don’t take for granted the [Yes] vote. We don’t mark [Yes] to everything.

We put in a lot review, a lot of study, and a lot of work on these measures. And if it appears our decision is inconsistent with what someone has rallied to get done in their favor, we believe the steps we’re taking are in the best interest of the community. Sometimes people ask--Why did you vote [Yes] and the other 10 said [No]. We can’t legislate by ‘group think.’ We got to do our work.

Southwest Tribune: Parcel 5?

Scott: We’ve extended the timeline for getting the results back from the consultant firm who’s out interviewing art groups about their issues and concerns. And that’s due by the end of late September and we’ll share our findings with the public and go from there.

Southwest Tribune: Downtown?

Scott: I want to see a downtown that’s vibrant, not just in the daytime, but the evening as well. A downtown that is a neighborhood, not just a destination, so people who live downtown have the amenities--everything from a pharmacy to a dry cleaner, like most neighborhoods. But it also has options for fine dining or casual dining and entertainment. The things that make you want to go downtown as a destination, and the same things that make you want to live there, because they’re housing options that are affordable.

I’m pleased with the way it’s coming along. I haven’t been here most of my life just to see cars parked on Main Street. That was foreign to me. Before, the only thing that went on the sides of Main Street was buses. What’s amazing today is that I’ve seen people walking dogs downtown, because they live downtown. That single incident confirmed what I’m witnessing, which is an evolution of a neighborhood. A development of a downtown neighborhood that’s welcoming to everybody.

Southwest Tribune: Your role as a public servant?

Scott: I think, the large part of it has to do with access and being approachable. I think, because I’ve experienced a lot and been involved in a lot, people have a greater sense that I understand what it is they’re relaying to me and they got a sense of confidence that if there’s something I could do to impact the issue they’re talking to me about, I would do my best to make that happen. So, I think it’s something people believe that I’m committed to serving.
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