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?