I will relentlessly promote one message in this campaign and in my work on behalf of our community: Monroe County, New York – a great place to learn and work.
World class educational institutions fuel the economy of Monroe County: University of Rochester, RIT, St. John Fisher, Nazareth College, SUNY Brockport, Roberts Wesleyan, and nearby SUNY Geneseo and Houghton. The most important educational institution in Rochester – in terms of opportunity and social mobility for all of our residents – is Monroe Community College. MCC ranks as one of the most important responsibilities of the Monroe County Legislature. As your legislator, I will bring my 43 years of experience in education to the work of keeping MCC robust, sustainable, and accessible for all students. A major point of emphasis must be support for enrolled students so that they can continue their education at MCC to the completion of a degree.
Growing Our Economy: Making Monroe County an Entrepreneur Incubator
Our community thrived when entrepreneurs led the way: Eastman, the early Haloid/Xerox inventors, Carlson, Wegman, Golisano, Polisseni, Kate Gleason, John Purcell. Corporate welfare has shown little by way of results. We must support entrepreneurs and small businesses with deep roots in our community, not corporations that care little about our citizens. By leveraging our world-class educational system, Monroe County can rebrand itself as the place for entrepreneurs to build businesses that benefit from our outstanding natural resources, highly educated workforce, excellent and affordable housing stock, and great schools. This message must be sent to all who wish to start businesses but especially to our younger entrepreneurs. We can accomplish this with a microloan program, with promotion and shared supports for startups, and the encouragement that makes the difference for the intrepid among us who create jobs. Job creation – not social programs or public policy argument – has to be job one. If we love workers – and my life has been defined by work and support for those who work – then we must focus on job creation. Entrepreneurs represent the most cherished values of our American culture – risk-taking, self-governance, self-reliance, vision, individualism, dream-seeking – and I’d like to see Monroe County nationally known for its celebration and support of entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Support for Public Sector Employees
I have been a champion for public sector employees for four decades, serving as an advocate for Fairport teachers. My philosophy is simple: we need the fewest possible public employees whom we support with fair and competitive salary and benefits so that our employees are of the highest quality – so that the services they provide are of the highest quality. Staffing must be accomplished so that overtime abuse is a thing of the past. Monroe County has outstanding public sector employees and we must keep it that way.
First Responders and Our Justice System
As a teacher, I have been in a sense a “first responder” along with nurses, bus drivers, and all who directly work with citizens. Responsiveness to the needs of the people requires steadfast commitment to the dignity of our fellow citizens. Our brothers and sisters in law enforcement, in the fire departments, and on our emergency medical teams put their lives on the line for the safety of our community. As a local justice for ten years, I witnessed first hand the importance of professional and dignified treatment of the community by all in the justice system. As a county legislator, I will always focus on building the best possible relationship between the people of our community and the public servants who provide access to justice and public safety. Strengthening the respect that goes both ways – between those who serve and those whom they serve – will always be my top priority.
Our Youngest Citizens
One question will determine our legacy as a civilization and in each of our communities: How did we treat the most vulnerable among us? As a justice and as a teacher I have seen the lifelong consequences of children who did not receive intervention services during the formative years from birth to 7 years old. As a county, we must take action – complaining about NYS is not enough – to put in place needed services for young children. Again, we are talking about compassionate first responders, not people behind desks, but qualified professionals who support our youngest learners in their reading readiness, their nutrition, and their social growth.
As an East Rochesterian, I believe in ONE ER. As a longtime Fairport teacher and Perinton resident, I believe in ONE PERINTON. A Democrat my entire adult life, I view political affiliation as an identity marker way down the list of who I am. I am a teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a member of the Church of St. Jerome, etc. The tribal point of view gripping our nation and some in our community does nothing more than divide us. I view every member of the community as a member of my tribe.
We can do better. We can come together as a community to solve the serious issues we face. It starts with our recognizing all that we hold in common.