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Miner, his boss, never backed Perez Williams, and the two women have a strained relationship.
She's now eyeing November, hoping to become the first Latina mayor in a major city in New York State -- a historical point of heritage she's made sure to emphasize.
Her message to voters throughout the campaign was broad: I'm like you.
She told the story of a poor, "little brown girl" who grew up in a world where race, gender and economic status narrowed one's options.
When someone told her she couldn't do something, she resolved to prove them wrong. When she entered the race for mayor, the party didn't consider her.
Today, Perez Williams speaks only a little Spanish. Her mother described a leader who fought to outdo her brothers, two of whom are now lawyers as well. Perez Williams worked in the state education department, then for nine years at Syracuse University. She moved to the city's west side after a newly elected Stephanie Miner appointed her the city's corporation counsel.
The kids would post report cards on the refrigerator, ranking them best to worst. He was in the service and so were all of his uncles and his father. She and Miner had met at a law seminar 10 years prior. She bought a house on Wellesly Road in Strathmore in 2012 and lives there with her daughter, Nina, and her four-year-old grandson, Wesley.
Perez Williams has been critical of Miner during the campaign. "It really put me at ease." Since then, he's been a sort of unofficial adviser on the campaign, offering insights about city operations and, in particular, the needs of the city's housing stock.
Driscoll didn't want to appear that he was undermining the administation. If Perez Williams is elected, he said he hopes to continue on in his commissioner role. Driscoll is one of a handful of inner-circle policy advisers on the campaign. Laura Miller is general manager of Darco Manufacturing, a Mattydale company that makes machine parts.
Instead, the counselor told her, she should learn a trade. As a poor, Latina teenager who dreamed of being a lawyer, she was crushed. "She said, 'You don't come from a background that has enough of a vocabulary to get through college,' " Perez Williams said.
-- When Juanita Perez Williams was in 11th grade, she recalls a guidance counselor telling her she wasn't cut out for college.
And it's on her mind still, several days after city Democrats nominated her their candidate for mayor.