ROCHESTER, N.Y. — One of the most hotly-contested races in the Rochester-Finger Lakes region will help determine the next balance of power in Congress.
A long-established political force against a former police chief, both vying for New York’s 25th Congressional District.
In the final days leading up to Election Day, the incumbent Congressman Joseph Morelle rallies for support. His challenger is also pounding the pavement seeking votes.
La’Ron Singletary grew up in the city of Rochester, serving 20 years as a police officer and more than a year as chief of the Rochester Police Department. He was ousted from the department in the wake of the death of Daniel Prude.
Singletary left the Democratic Party to become a Republican and in 2021, announced his first run for public office in Congress.
“We have a chance to make history and change,” Singletary said. “The last time a Republican held this seat was 1982, and I will be the first African American to represent this area with this newly formed district.”
Morelle was elected to the House of Representatives in 2018. The Irondequoit native has been in politics since he was 24 years old, having served in the New York State Assembly and Monroe County Legislature.
“The things that I care deeply about are the shared values that we have as a community,” said Morelle. “Growing up, my parents repeated the message that if you’re in a position to help people, you have an obligation to do it. So I work very hard to remember those values, to act on them.”
The 25th Congressional District encompasses all of Monroe County and five towns on the eastern border of Orleans County. The candidates weighed in on their plans to take on some of the top issues on voters’ minds, including violence in the community.
“One of the things I think we need to do is support our police, make sure they have the resources they need to go out there and do their job, and by resources, support is a resource,” Singletary said. “You need to be able to work with the Department of Justice to bring grants here to bring money here so that the police department is able to recruit.”
Morelle is pushing for what he calls common sense gun control.
“We have too many guns in the United States, 400 million guns, more guns than people,” said Morelle. “And I believe we can find common ground that would make our streets safer.”
The candidates also commented on abortion rights.
“As I’m out knocking on doors every day, people are thanking me for the leadership that we provided to get to a place where every single woman in every single state in this country is protected, where decisions that they make about their health care, their bodies and their families aren’t controlled by, frankly, elected officials in the various states or at the federal government level,” Morelle said.
Singletary says he is pro-life in most circumstances, but believes individual states should determine their own laws.
“I’m not for a nationwide ban,” said Singletary.
On the economy, both want to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.
Morelle says he will continue to work toward reducing prescription drug prices for Medicare recipients, extending the child tax credit and providing day care benefits.
“Very concerned about the rising cost of inflation,” Morelle said. “It’s obviously a worldwide challenge.”
Singletary says inflation is too high and the country needs to become energy independent.
“One of the things we have to do is we have to stop that reckless spending that’s been going on,” said Singletary. “You know, we have to stop the reckless spending. I always say that if the American people have to live on a budget, so should the federal government.”