Rachel Barnhart lives in the Beechwood neighborhood with her 137-pound Neapolitan Mastiff, Pixie. She is the Chief Development Officer for a local nonprofit that serves individuals in poverty.
Rachel grew up in the Maplewood neighborhood and attended Rochester City School District schools, graduating from John Marshall High School as valedictorian in 1994. Her parents are retired RCSD educators who believe in a strong public education system. Rachel went on to earn her Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University.
Rachel’s passion for social justice led her to a career in journalism, eager to use her skills to fiercely advocate for citizens in her hometown.
As a strong investigative and public interest journalist for Time Warner Cable, 13WHAM News and WROC-TV, Rachel earned a reputation not only for her integrity and fairness, but as an ardent truth-seeker. She never stopped asking tough questions, holding the powerful accountable and giving a voice to the voiceless.
During her 18-year career, Rachel focused on city issues. She studied every annual budget document, every Request for Proposals, every environmental impact statement on big projects and every piece of council legislation. Rachel dived into the finances and feasibility of projects including Renaissance Square, the fast ferry, Midtown Plaza and the Inner Loop. Rachel’s coverage of city issues extended to the RCSD, where she repeatedly exposed administrative bloat, excessive spending on travel, sweetheart deals for cabinet members and union tensions with a series of superintendents.
Rachel also covered issues related to public safety. She reported on countless homicides and spent time with numerous grieving families. She obtained a murder confession that resulted in a judge ordering a retrial of the man imprisoned for the crime. After a series of crimes committed by individuals on parole, Rachel exposed the local parole office had been crippled by funding cuts. Rachel reported on incidents involving alleged police use of force and resulting lawsuits. Rachel also covered the 2015 trial of the man accused of killing Officer Daryl Pierson.
Rachel sets herself apart by being fearless, engaged and transparent.
Rachel’s desire to make a difference in our community in a different way prompted her decision to leave journalism in 2016 and run for New York State Assembly. Her campaign brought attention to progressive issues such as improved transit, corporate giveaways, marijuana legalization, fiber internet access, excessive standardized testing, and ethics reform.
A Democrat since she was 18 years old, Rachel is deeply committed to social and economic equality. She will never give up on making Rochester a place where everyone can find opportunity.