Andrea Batista Schlesinger
Mayor Bob Duffy: “Like a boxer on one knee”
Bob Duffy is a tough guy with a tough job. He's the mayor of Rochester, NY, a city of 208,000 grappling with some tough statistics. A few stand outs:
- 39% high school graduation rate
- 57% of adults read at 6th grade level or below
- 38% child poverty rate, the highest in the state
- a population decrease from 332,000 in the 50s to 208,000 today
And then there's the stat that underlies all the other stats -- a 41% drop in manufacturing jobs over the last few decades.
Rochester is not a big, glamorous city like LA or Miami. But the story of Rochester is one that must be told. Mayor Duffy speaks incredibly eloquently for the hundreds of small and mid-sized America cities that grew up around a strong manufacturing base, and have struggled for survival as that base drops out. For Rochester, that base was Eastman-Kodak.
"Eastman Kodak, when I was much younger, employed 65,000 people here in Rochester," said the 53-year-old Duffy. "Today, it's 11,000 to 12,000. That gives you a sense of the changes that manufacturing has had here, and across this country."
Before becoming Mayor, Duffy was Rochester's police chief for seven years, and a lifetime cop before that. It show in his neighborhood-centric, pragmatic, non-partisan (actually more like anti-partisan) approach to governing. And also in his metaphors.
"Our cities across this country are proud. They have a great history. But like a boxer, they've taken one knee, and they have to bring themselves back."