Answer Man: I heard someone say the other day that Rochester would make history by electing its first female city council president in November, since the only candidates are women. I don’t think that’s correct. Didn’t someone already break the gender barrier in Rochester? — A struggling historian
Historian: No need to struggle. As always, I have the scoop for you.
Indeed, Rochester voters have already elected a woman as president of the Rochester City Council.
Nancy Selby took the helm of the council in 1989 after defeating an 18-year incumbent, Dick Postier, in a citywide election.
The following years saw the council complete much of the D-5 downtown redevelopment plan that included Galleria Centerplace, the post office and Radisson Hotel. The council also secured financing through a sales tax to construct the new city hall and public library and replace Fire Station No. 1.
Selby died in 2009, and was remembered as a thoughtful and courteous leader with good business sense.
"She was in business, and she knew the business," former mayor Chuck Canfield told the Post Bulletin at the time. "She was good to work with."
Outside of the council, Selby was the founding co-owner of Selby Truck Sales and Orange Julius in Rochester.
So, you are correct that the election of a woman as Rochester City Council president won’t break new ground for the city.
However, history is still being made with the slate of three women seeking the at-large office. Regardless of who is elected, the city’s two top elected positions will be held by women.
With at least one woman running in each of the three council ward seats, there’s also the possibility — don’t ask me for the odds — that the council could see a female majority.
Of course, the outcome of Tuesday’s primary election will determine whether that possibility remains heading into the Nov. 3 general election.
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