News Release - Statement by Mayor Duffy on Cynthia Elliot Endorsement

City of Rochester

News Release

(Thursday, October 29, 2009) - I have been asked by members of the media in the past few days whether I am going to withdraw my support of Cynthia Elliot in her re-election bid for the Rochester City School Board due to her use of profane language at a recent school board meeting. The answer is “no.” I stand by my endorsement of Cynthia. That being said, I do not condone the use of such language – either publically or privately. That sort of language has no place in public discourse, much less at a meeting of educators. I reject such vulgarity and have said so to Cynthia.

My support of Cynthia Elliot remains because I know that her entire focus since joining the school board is on children and their educational success. While others may worry more about adults, elections and special interests, it is clear to me that Cynthia is driven by concern for our kids and not politics. The attacks on her now seem to be more about political endorsements and promoting other candidates than about what truly matters – the success of our children and graduation rates.

While others are scoring political points on Cynthia’s use of obscenities, what is really obscene is spending $23,000 per student and having more than half of them fail to graduate. What is truly obscene is that 73 cents of every city property tax dollar – more than $119 million – is mandated to be paid to the school district without any City oversight whatsoever. An educational system that puts adults, jobs and politics ahead of student performance – that’s obscene.

We are in the midst of a terrible economic crisis and the City is bracing for a mid-year budget cut in excess of $7 million and a structural shortfall next year in the tens of millions. One of the biggest challenges we face is our schools. Most of the people committing crimes in our city are high school dropouts and we continue to produce more dropouts than graduates.

I fully support Superintendent Jean Claude Brizard, who must deal with the educational failures of our system in the midst of all of this political wrangling. This must change. He deserves a board that is focused on improving education and not on political grandstanding.

While I am extremely disappointed in the language used by Cynthia Elliot and I recognize that it sets a bad example, I know what is in her heart. She cares about the well-being and educational success of our children. I would only hope that those who have spent so much time and effort demonizing Cynthia would spend more time on what is really important – graduation rates and success in school for our children.


For more information contact Gary Walker in City Communications at 428-7405.