Let It Shine
A few weeks ago, a brave firefighter stood on the steps of City Hall and told the community a story about the heinous bigotry that lives in Rochester. Firefighter Jerrod Jones explained that his commanding supervisor took him and several other RFD members to a party on East Ave with deeply racist and misogynist themes. He also recounted seeing disturbing images of Democratic elected officials, including my head on a stake. More recently, someone spread patently false claims about me, and about Foodlink – the organization I have served for nearly 14 years – as part of a long-standing smear campaign.
There is a lot of anger and hatred in this world. But I am reminded of a teaching from the great Rabbi Hillel, who said that the entire essence of the Torah is “What is hateful to you, do the opposite.”
My goal as an elected leader is to never respond to hate with hate and to instead use all of my energy to serve our community and make it a better place. I am proud of the work that I get to do every day in this community, and I want to shine a light on a few uplifting stories from this summer.
I supported the creation of a program called Cultivating Communities, a paid horticulture and civic engagement program through the City Recreation Centers with partners including Cornell Cooperative Extension and Taproot Collective.
This program paid 15 young people to learn critical skills and beautify our community.
The City brought Kiva to Rochester a few years ago as the first program to offer interest-free microloans to small businesses. Kiva has been a lifeline to many businesses that lack traditional financing options. This summer, Kiva Rochester surpassed $1 million given in loans!
Some critical reporting by Justin Murphy revealed the tree canopy inequity in Rochester. Since then, I’ve worked with the Department of Environmental Services to begin updating our Urban Forestry Master Plan, and with community-based organizations which are starting to lay the groundwork for new tree plantings. A more equitable tree canopy will have significant benefits to both public health and public safety.
We still have a long way to go to get to the vision that Mr. Jones shared when he spoke out at City Hall – a Rochester that roots out bigotry, with City departments that treat everyone equitably. I unequivocally support this vision, and I am committed to working towards this shared goal each and every day.
I hope you have a wonderful end to your summer. Please know that I am happy to talk about any of this further – just reach out to Beth Sieber to schedule a meeting.