David F. Gantt

David F. Gantt Jr. (September 12, 1941 – July 1, 2020) was an American politician who served as a member of the New York Assembly from 1983 to 2020 as a member of the Democratic Party. Prior to his Assembly tenure, he was a member of the Monroe County, New York Legislature. He was the first and, until the election of Demond Meeks in 2020, only black person to represent Monroe County in the New York Assembly.

David F. Gantt
David F. Gantt 1959.png
Gantt in 1959
Member of the New York Assembly
In office
January 1, 1983 – July 1, 2020
Preceded byDale Rath (133rd district)
Christopher S. Friend (137th district)
Succeeded byBill Nojay (133rd district)
Demond Meeks (137th district)
Constituency133rd district (1983–2012)
137th district (2013–2020)
Member of the Monroe County, New York Legislature from the 22nd district
In office
1973 – December 21, 1982[1]
Preceded byRonald Good[2]
Succeeded byRon Thomas[3]
Personal details
Born(1941-09-21)September 21, 1941
Opp, Alabama, U.S.
DiedJuly 1, 2020(2020-07-01) (aged 78)
Political partyDemocratic
Children2[4]
Signature

Gantt was born in Alabama and his family moved to New York during the 1950s. He attended two colleges after graduating from high school, but dropped out of both after a few years. In 1973, he was elected to the Monroe County Legislature and served until his election to the Assembly in 1982. During his tenure in the Assembly, he served on the Aging, Commerce, Election Laws, Steering, Transportation, and Ways and Means committees.

Early lifeEdit

David F. Gantt Jr. was born on September 12, 1941, in Opp, Alabama, to Lena Mae Gantt and David Gantt Sr., who died during David's youth. During the 1950s his family moved to New York, as the social services system was better in New York than in the South. In 1960, he graduated from Franklin High School, and later he attended the Roberts Wesleyan College and Rochester Institute of Technology.[5][4] Gantt attended Roberts Wesleyan College for two years using a partial basketball scholarship, but dropped out due to the financial constraints on his family.[6]

After dropping out of college, he worked for Case-Hoyt Corp. printing company and as a manager at the Anthony Jordan Health Center.[6] During the 1960 presidential election he volunteered for Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign. In 1965, he campaigned for Ronald Good's successful campaign for the Monroe County Legislature.[2]

CareerEdit

Monroe County LegislatureEdit

ElectionsEdit

In 1973, Gantt ran to succeed Good in the Monroe County Legislature from the 22nd district, defeating Republican nominee Leonard M. Lofton.[2][4][7] He won reelection to the county legislature in 1975, 1977, and 1979.[8][9][10]

In 1979, Gantt faced a primary challenge from Joseph Flores, a Hispanic Republican with the endorsement of the Hispanic Political Action Coalition and the Hispanic Women's Caucus, but defeated him in the Democratic primary.[11][12] In the general election he defeated Flores, now the Republican nominee.[10]

In 1981, Gantt faced a primary challenge from Marlene Tisdale. In the Democratic primary he defeated Tisdale, and was the only one of seven incumbent county legislators to received the support of the Monroe County Democratic Party that won in the primary election.[13][14] In the general election he defeated Republican nominee Willie C. Anderson.[15]

TenureEdit

In 1977, the Democratic minority in the county legislature attempted to place him onto the Ways and Means Committee, but the Republican majority rejected Gantt in favor of Anthony Reed.[16] After the Democratic Party gained a majority in the county legislature in the 1977 elections Gantt and Michael Ormsby were selected to serve as assistant majority leaders.[17]

In 1980, Gantt was elected as a member of the New York Democratic Party's state committee alongside Marlene Tisdale.[18]

New York AssemblyEdit

ElectionsEdit

On July 15, 1982, Gantt announced that he would seek the Democratic nomination in the New York Assembly's 133rd district to replace Assemblymember Dale Rath.[19] In the Democratic primary, he defeated Anthony Reed and James George.[20] In the general election, Gantt defeated Republican nominee John H. Dixon, Conservative nominee Patricia Brennan, and Right to Life nominee James J. Downs.[21] Gantt became the first and only black person to represent Monroe County in the Assembly.[6] He was reelected in 1984, and 1986.[22][23]

In 1988, Gantt faced a primary challenge from Melody Long, one of multiple Lyndon LaRouche supporters who challenged incumbent Democratic members of the Assembly and Senate in the primaries, but defeated Long in the primary.[24] In the general election he defeated Republican nominee Michael Keller, Conservative nominee Mario Mazzullo, and Right to Life nominee Cheryl Battles.[25]

Gantt won reelection from the 133rd district with opposition in 1990, 1992, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2006.[26][27][28][29][30][31][32] In 1994, 2004, 2008, and 2010, he won reelection from the 133rd district without opposition.[33][34][35][36] He was redistricted into the 137th district and won reelection in 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018.[37][38][39][40]

In June 2020, Gantt announced that he would not seek reelection to the Assembly.[41] He endorsed Ernest Flagler-Mitchell, a member of the Monroe County legislature, to succeed him, but Flagler-Mitchell was defeated by Demond Meeks.[42]

TenureEdit

During the 1983–1985 session of the Assembly Gantt served on the Aging, Commerce, and Election Laws committees.[43] During the 1993–1995 session of the Assembly he served on the Ways and Means, and Steering committees.[44]

During the 1984 Democratic presidential primaries he supported Walter Mondale and ran as a Mondale delegate from the 29th congressional district.[45] He was later selected to serve as a delegate-at-large for Mondale alongside Nancy Padilla.[46] During the 1988 Democratic presidential primaries he supported Jesse Jackson and petitioned to serve as a Jackson delegate from the 29th congressional district.[47]

In 1989, he was selected to serve as the chairman of the state Legislative Commission on the Development of Rural Resources by Speaker Mel Miller.[48] In 1990, he was selected by Miller to replace Angelo Del Toro, who was appointed as Chairman of the Education committee, as co-chairman of the joint Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment committee, which would reapportion districts based upon the 1990 Census.[49] In 1994, he was selected to replace Michael J. Bragman as chairman of the Transportation committee.[50]

In January 1990, Gantt swore in Thomas P. Ryan Jr. for his second term as mayor of Rochester, New York.[51] In 1991, he became the senior member of Monroe County's delegation following the death of Roger J. Robach.[52]

During the 2004 Democratic presidential primaries he endorsed Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.[53] Gantt stated that Kerry was "an American war hero and willing to stick his head out for education".[54] During the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries he endorsed New York Senator Hillary Clinton and served as a delegate for her to the Democratic National Convention.[55] During the 2012 presidential election he supported President Barack Obama, served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, and attended the Obama's second inauguration.[56] During the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries he endorsed Hillary Clinton.[57]

DeathEdit

On July 1, 2020, Gantt died from kidney failure.[58] Following his death, he was praised by Governor Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Letitia James, United States Representative Joseph Morelle, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Assembly Minority Leader William Barclay, and Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren.[59]

Political positionsEdit

Civil and human rightsEdit

In 1994, Gantt voted in favor of legislation that would prohibit discrimination based upon sexual orientation in jobs, schools, public establishments, and housing.[60] The Assembly later voted unanimously to support legislation prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities.[61] In 1997, he voted in favor of legislation that prohibited female genital mutilation.[62] In 1999, he voted in favor a constitutional amendment that would require equal pay for men and women.[63]

In 2001, Gantt co-sponsored a resolution by Charles H. Nesbitt that called for President George W. Bush to pardon the 50 black sailors who were convicted for refusing to load munitions onto ships following the Port Chicago disaster.[64]

In 2007, Gantt voted in favor of legislation that made the sale of violent or indecent video games to minors a felony, and would require consoles to have equipment that would prevent the display of those games.[65] He later voted in favor of legislation that would legalize the medicinal usage of marijuana.[66]

In 2009, he chose to abstain on legislation that would legalize same-sex marriages in New York.[67] In 2011, he voted against legislation that would legalize same-sex marriages.[68]

CrimeEdit

In 1983, Gantt introduced legislation that would make the possession of a knife, dagger, or imitation pistol on school grounds a Class A misdemeanor punished with up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. He created the legislation in response to the stabbing death of Peter Castle, a school tutor.[69] In 1993, he sponsored legislation that would make the possession of a loaded gun in a school building, playground, athletic field, or within 1,000 feet of schoolyards a felony punishable with six to twenty five years in prison.[70] In 1995, he voted in favor of legislation that would ban the ownership of assault weapons.[71] In 2000, he voted in favor of legislation that raised the age requirement for obtaining a handgun permit from 18 to 21 years old.[72]

In 1990, he voted against legislation that would have reinstituted capital punishment in New York.[73] In 1993, the Assembly voted 61 to 49, with Gantt voting against, in favor of an amendment to the Constitution of New York that would reinstitute capital punishment, but fell below the 2/3rds requirement.[74] In 1995, he voted against legislation that would reinstitute capital punishment, but it was approved by the Assembly and Senate before being signed into law by Governor George Pataki.[75]

In 1994, the Assembly voted 57 to 56, with Gantt voting against, against legislation that would create a central DNA registry of convicted sex offenders and would allow DNA evidence to be used in court.[76] On June 28, 1995, the Assembly voted 149 to 9, with Gantt voting against, in favor of legislation similar to Megan's Law which would require sex offenders to register their location with the state.[77]

DevelopmentEdit

In 1993, Gantt proposed using $10 million to renovate the Silver Stadium to meet Major League Baseball facility standards and transfer ownership from the Rochester Red Wings to Monroe County.[78] Following the demolition of the stadium he proposed building a new $44 million stadium, with $15 million coming from the state, $6 million from Monroe County, $1 million from Rochester, and the remainder coming from the Rochester Rhinos.[79]

In 2004, the documentary July '64 was released and received two Emmy award nominations, after being produced in Rochester, New York, and receiving funding from the New York state legislature due to Gantt.[80] The documentary was based on the 1964 Rochester race riot which Gantt had experienced.[81]

EconomicsEdit

In 1983, Gantt voted in favor of legislation that raised the minimum wage for farm workers from $2.75 to $3.35 per hour.[82] In 1996, he voted in favor of legislation that would raise New York's minimum wage from $4.25 to $5.05 per hour.[83] In 1997, he voted in favor of legislation that would raise New York's minimum wage from $4.25 to $5.15 per hour.[84] In 2001 and 2002, he voted in favor of legislation that would raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.75 per hour.[85]

In 1992, he opposed a sales tax increase from 7% to 8% that was proposed by Monroe County Executive Robert L. King and approved by the Monroe County Legislature.[86] However, Gantt later supported another proposed sales tax increase to 7.5%.[87]

RatingsEdit

In 1989, Gantt was given an 85% rating from the New York Environmental Planning Lobby.[88] In 1990, he was given a 92% rating from the New York Civil Liberties Union.[89]

In 1991, he was given a 20% rating from the Conservative Party of New York State.[90] In 1992, he was given a 0% rating from the Conservative Party.[91]

Electoral historyEdit

David F. Gantt electoral history
1973 Monroe County Legislature 22nd district election[7]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic David F. Gantt 1,502 70.25%
Republican Leonard M. Lofton 636 29.75%
Total votes 2,138 100.00%
Blank/void 414
1975 Monroe County Legislature 22nd district election[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic David F. Gantt (incumbent) 1,466 72.97%
Republican Rufina Luciano 543 27.03%
Total votes 2,009 100.00%
Blank/void 234
1977 Monroe County Legislature 22nd district election[9]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic David F. Gantt (incumbent) 1,097 72.75%
Republican Rufina Luciano 411 27.25%
Total votes 1,508 100.00%
Blank/void 200
1979 Monroe County Legislature 22nd district Democratic primary[12]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic David F. Gantt (incumbent) 581 67.56%
Democratic Joseph Flores 279 32.44%
Total votes 860 100.00%
1979 Monroe County Legislature 22nd district election[10]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic David F. Gantt (incumbent) 1,177 76.13%
Republican Joseph Flores 369 23.87%
Total votes 1,546 100.00%
1981 Monroe County Legislature 22nd district Democratic primary[14]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic David F. Gantt (incumbent) 704 62.14%
Democratic Marlene Tisdale 429 37.86%
Total votes 1,133 100.00%
1981 Monroe County Legislature 22nd district election[15]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic David F. Gantt (incumbent) 1,616 78.79%
Republican Willie C. Anderson 435 21.21%
Total votes 2,051 100.00%
1982 New York State Assembly 133rd district election[21]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic David F. Gantt 15,936 62.18%
Liberal David F. Gantt 559 2.18%
Total David F. Gantt 16,495 64.36%
Republican John Henry Dixon 7,101 27.71%
Conservative Patricia H. Brennan 1,534 5.99%
Right to Life James J. Downs 491 1.92%
Write-ins Scattering 8 0.03%
Total votes 25,629 100.00%
Blank/void 4,236
1984 New York State Assembly 133rd district election[22]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic David F. Gantt (incumbent)
Liberal David F. Gantt (incumbent)
Total David F. Gantt (incumbent) 23,656 63.43%
Republican Robert M. Dandrea
Conservative Robert M. Dandrea
First Party Independent Robert M. Dandrea
Total Robert M. Dandrea 13,640 36.57%
Total votes 37,296 100.00%
1986 New York State Assembly 133rd district election[23]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic David F. Gantt (incumbent) 16,760 90.58%
Conservative Mario C. Mazzullo 1,704 9.42%
Total votes 18,464 100.00%
1990 New York State Assembly 133rd district election[26][92]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic David F. Gantt (incumbent) 13,222 63.97%
Republican Patricia Millon 5,767 27.90%
Conservative Mario C. Mazzullo 1,680 8.13%
Total votes 20,669 100.00%
1992 New York State Assembly 133rd district election[27]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic David F. Gantt (incumbent) 15,024 79.68%
Conservative Mario C. Mazzullo 2,538 13.46%
Right to Life Deborah Sanders 1,293 6.86%
Total votes 18,855 100.00%
1998 New York State Assembly 133rd district election[29]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic David F. Gantt (incumbent) 15,744 87.48%
Conservative Judith A. Sinclair 2,254 12.52%
Total votes 17,998 100.00%
Blank/void 6,604
2000 New York State Assembly 133rd district election[30]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic David F. Gantt (incumbent) 20,274 72.06%
Republican Stephen Tucciarello 6,480 23.03%
Conservative Stephen Tucciarello 850 3.02%
Total Stephen Tucciarello 7,330 26.05%
Independence James A. Tranquill 530 1.88%
Total votes 28,134 100.00%
Blank/void 5,190
2002 New York State Assembly 133rd district election[31]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic David F. Gantt (incumbent) 14,872 81.74%
Conservative Mark J. McCabe 1,690 9.29%
Independence Solomon D. Harris 1,633 8.97%
Total votes 18,195 100.00%
Blank/void 7,270
2004 New York State Assembly 133rd district election[34]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic David F. Gantt (incumbent) 22,050 100.00%
Total votes 22,050 100.00%
Blank/void 17,040
2006 New York State Assembly 133rd district election[32]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic David F. Gantt (incumbent) 14,791 76.42%
Republican Carlos Q. Coker 4,563 23.58%
Total votes 19,354 100.00%
Blank/void 4,249
2008 New York State Assembly 133rd district election[35]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic David F. Gantt (incumbent) 29,622 100.00%
Total votes 29,622 100.00%
Blank/void 14,981
2010 New York State Assembly 133rd district election[36]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic David F. Gantt (incumbent) 14,972 100.00%
Total votes 14,972 100.00%
Blank/void 7,554
2012 New York State Assembly 137th district election[37]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic David F. Gantt (incumbent) 33,081 88.03%
Green Andrew P. Langdon 4,498 11.97%
Total votes 37,579 100.00%
Blank/void 8,674
2014 New York State Assembly 137th district election[38][93]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic David F. Gantt (incumbent) 13,288 78.58%
Rochester and Gates United Neighbors Ann C. Lewis 3,622 21.42%
Total votes 16,910 100.00%
Blank/void 4,837
2016 New York State Assembly 137th district election[39]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic David F. Gantt (incumbent) 31,738 100.00%
Total votes 31,738 100.00%
Blank/void 12,775
2018 New York State Assembly 137th district election[40]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic David F. Gantt (incumbent) 22,825 100.00%
Total votes 22,825 100.00%
Blank/void 9,728

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit

New York State Assembly
Preceded by
Dale Rath
New York State Assembly
133rd District

1983–2012
Succeeded by
Bill Nojay
Preceded by
Christopher S. Friend
New York State Assembly
137th District

2013–2020
Succeeded by
Demond Meeks