Looking Back, Looking Ahead

As our second pandemic year comes to a close, I wanted to take a moment to recap my work in the Monroe County Legislature on behalf of the 21st District and look ahead to what’s next. We have accomplished a great deal, and many challenges and opportunities remain.

Keeping Our Community Healthy

  • After learning parts of the 21st District have vaccination rates below 50 percent, I worked with Connected Communities to offer vaccination at the opening of the Grand Ave. Adventure Concourse. This family-friendly, accessible event vaccinated many times the number of people anticipated, and serves as a model for neighborhood vaccination strategies.
  • I also worked with Monroe County to implement $100 vaccination incentives, which helped get more people to the table to learn about the benefits of vaccination. 

Help for Restaurants and Small Businesses

  • My legislation to prohibit third-party food delivery apps from listing restaurants without their approval passed the Legislature with bipartisan support. The state has since followed our lead and passed a similar law.
  • Monroe County awarded a second round of Fast Forward Monroe grants to small businesses, with an emphasis on women and minority-owned businesses, as well as businesses in distressed Zip codes.

Broadband Solutions 

  • I sit on the Monroe County Advisory Task Force on Broadband. The Legislature is expected to soon vote on a contract to recommend solutions to bridging the digital divide. This is a crucial step to determining ways we can offer affordable broadband internet service for everyone.

Helping Families with Incarcerated Loved Ones

  • I asked the Sheriff’s Office to offer free calls for the families of incarcerated individuals at the Monroe County Jail. It’s imperative that they maintain community ties in order for their well-being and successful re-entry. In response, Sheriff Todd Baxter came up with a plan to provide inmates at the Monroe County Jail 75 minutes of free phone calls per week. The calls will be funded through additional jail phone call revenue. The plan, which passed the Legislature in March with bipartisan support, will save families about $30 dollars a month. 

Safety for Bicyclists

  • I introduced Carrie Ray’s 3-Foot Passing Law to Protect Bicyclists, which requires motorists to maintain a distance of at least three feet when passing a cyclist. The law is named in honor of a teacher and mom who was struck and killed by a passing pickup truck. Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia already require a safe passing distance of three feet. The bill, which was co-sponsored by Legislator Jackie Smith, passed the Legislature and was signed into law by the county executive.

Looking Ahead

  • For the first time in three decades Democrats have the majority in the Legislature! This is an exciting opportunity to lead on issues important to Rochester and Monroe County.
  • Every 10 years, we must use census data to redraw Legislature district lines. This undertaking is called redistricting. If the County Executive vetoes the maps passed by the previous GOP-majority, I am committed to a fair and open process to draw the new lines. The League of Women Voters has a great website detailing redistricting to date.
  • The Legislature must hire a new Public Defender. The office is a vitally important legal service that ensures people have fair representation in our justice system. I am committed to an inclusive and transparent search process to find the next leader of the office.
  • The Legislature must move forward on ethics reform, including providing penalties for sexual harassment and strengthening conflict of interest provisions. That work must begin immediately.
  • Monroe County received $144 million under the American Rescue Plan Act. The county has sought public input on how best to spend these dollars to help our community recover from the pandemic. I would like to see efforts that tackle anti-poverty and mental health initiatives.

It is a great honor to serve you and our community. I wish you and your family a Happy New Year filled with happiness and health!

Warm Regards,