About Rachel

Rachel Barnhart

A lifelong Democrat, Rachel has the skills and experience to fight the Trump administration’s corrosive policies and major ethical lapses. She has a proven track record of holding the powerful accountable and fighting for transparent and ethical government.

Rachel started speaking truth to power at Rochester’s John Marshall High School. She showed courage by publishing an underground newspaper about educational inequality that resulted in her suspension. Rachel went on to graduate from Cornell University, where she was the editor of an alternative newspaper, The Cornell Perspective. 

Rachel continued to use the power of the pen during her 18 years working as a broadcast journalist at stations including 13WHAM-TV and WROC-TV. She was the only local reporter to track spending at the Rochester City School District on top administrator salaries and perks. She uncovered cuts to the local parole office after a series of high-profile crimes committed by parolees. She obtained a murder confession from one man that led to a new trial for a different man convicted of the crime. Rachel extensively reported on municipal projects, including the fast ferry, Inner Loop, Midtown Plaza and Renaissance Square, making sure the public knew how their tax dollars were spent and how decisions impacted their community.

Rachel’s reporting on education “reforms” gained the attention of famed activist Diane Ravitch, who often featured her work on her website. Rachel often wrote about why it’s wrong to use test scores to evaluate teachers and close schools. Rachel administered Common Core tests to a group of parents and school leaders, an exercise that demonstrated flaws with the exams.

Rachel’s reporting exposed the existence of an unused fiber network across Monroe County. She also reported on the digital divide in Rochester, which leaves students unable to access internet at home. Rachel’s work led her to become an outspoken advocate for municipal broadband.

Politicians and business leaders knew that when Rachel showed up to a press conference, they would have to answer tough questions. Rachel developed a reputation as a hard worker with integrity and fearless determination. Rachel’s passion for Rochester shined through in her work.

Over the years, the Democrat and Chronicle has called Rachel a “champion of liberty” and a “breath of fresh air.”

Rachel was the only local journalist willing to speak on the record to City Newspaper about her time working at 13WHAM-TV, which has been impacted by Sinclair Broadcasting’s mandates to air conservative-leaning stories and commentaries. She co-founded the Rochester Media Association in 2011 to support and strengthen the local press.

After Rachel wasn't allowed to switch stations, she and her union, AFTRA, successfully fought to get the state legislature to ban noncompete clauses for broadcasters. Rachel took a brave stand that left her unemployed for several months and off the air for almost a year.

Rachel was a local pioneer on social media, using the medium to engage citizens across the political spectrum in civil discourse about important issues. One of the reasons Rachel is popular is she listens to people and talks to them about their lives.

Last year, Rachel founded a nonprofit that she leads called Rochester for All. The nonpartisan organization is dedicated to accountable, transparent and ethical government. Using open records, Rochester for All examined the City of Rochester checkbook, finding that federal funds were secretly used to build a high-end steakhouse downtown and a rooftop bar at a luxury hotel on East Ave. Rochester for All urged the City of Rochester and Monroe County not to approve tax abatements for a troubled developer. Rochester for All also stood up for a woman who made a sexual harassment complaint against a top government official.

Deep Roots in NY-25

Rachel has deep roots in the Rochester community.

On her father’s side, her grandmother, the daughter of a chauffeur, grew up on Fountain St. Her grandfather grew up on a farm in Fairport.

On her mother’s side, her great-grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. They settled in the Boston area, where her mother grew up in Newton. Rachel’s mother is Jewish and raised her children in the Jewish faith.

Rachel’s mother attended the University of Rochester. She met Rachel’s father at Charlotte High School, where both were teachers. Rachel’s parents are retired from the Rochester City School District. Her mother was a guidance counselor and her father was a math teacher and administrator.

Rachel has been active in Reconnect Rochester, an organization dedicated to making the region more accessible for public transit, cycling and pedestrians.

Rachel owns a home in Rochester’s Beechwood neighborhood, where she enjoys walks to the Rochester Public Market and Village Gate. She is an avid swimmer.

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Join us in sending Rachel Barnhart to Washington.

Rachel for Congress
17 Canfield Place, #2
Rochester, NY 14607

Rachel is happy to talk to you. Give her a call at 585-210-3246 or email her at rachel@rachel2018.com.

Campaign Manager: Annmarie Van Son 585-319-7773 annmarie@rachel2018.com

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