Alex White opened his small business in the city 14 years ago. Boldo’s Armory is located on Monroe Avenue – selling board games, card games, role playing games and miniature games.
“It's been fantastic to be able to make my hobby my occupation for as long as I have,” said White.
The small businessman started thinking about a run for mayor in 2009, when he heard then-mayor Bob Duffy would likely run unopposed.
“Since then, I don't think democracy in Rochester has been served well at all,” he said.
As the Green Party's candidate, White is the only man on the special election ballot who hasn't been mayor. He knows there are obvious disadvantages to that: A donation jar at his store's counter is used for fundraising. But White is pleasantly surprised by the media coverage he's received in this abbreviated race.
“We've had a lot of discussions. We've had a lot of forums. We've been able to present different views of how Rochester can be improved. Different views of how government should work,” said White. “These are serious issues and serious questions.”
White says the most serious issue facing Rochester is jobs, and finding ways to put people back to work. To do that, White would like to see local workers used for construction projects. He says the city needs to attract new business, and not just by throwing money at potential suitors.
“We can't just give out $40 million and continue to accept $25 million in return on it and say, ‘Look, I did something.’ ”
White was once a school teacher. He says now, many of his customers are young people. He says their families agonize over whether to stay in Rochester, or leave – because of school performance.
White does not support mayoral control of Rochester city schools.
“When my administration looks elsewhere to copy things other areas are doing, I want to copy ones that are successful,” he said. “Why we would want mayoral control is beyond me. It doesn't work.”
White believes schools won't improve until families have jobs, and neighborhoods are safer.
“This will improve our schools. This has been the mayor's job all along. I if the schools are bad it's because the mayor already failed. Let’s give him more control? You failed! Have more control? You fail again!” said White.
Energy is high on White's list of priorities. He favors a public utility in the city. Energy costs, he says, are more crippling than taxes. Cheaper energy, he believes, would go further than tax breaks.
“If that sounds enticing to you as a homeowner, imagine what it sounds to a business looking at opening a plant somewhere,” said White.
White realizes what he's up against – years of corporate and political experience – not to mention the name recognition Tom Richards and Bill Johnson bring with them. With low turnout anticipated, White says every vote will count.
And he's confident.
“This is gonna be close,” said White. “This is gonna be very close.”