• Candidate Profile: Zuleika Shepard for Family Court Judge

    It has become a Democratic mantra to say, “ this is the year of the woman,” mainly due to the significant number of female candidates around the country who have decided to throw their hats in the ring and run for public office at all levels of government .  Whether for local, town, city, county or state office, women are answering the call of the nation for public service.  Monroe county is no exception.

    Today we are proud to put the spotlight on Zuleika Shepard, a Monroe County Democratic Committee nominee for Family Court judge.

    As a Rochester native, Ms. Shepard is one of our hometown candidates running for the important county Family Court judicial bench, bringing with her firsthand knowledge of the community she seeks to represent. That background, combined with her training and professional experience, make her an exceptionally well-qualified candidate for the position as Family Court judge.

    Ms. Shepard  currently works as Deputy County Attorney in the Monroe County Law Department in the Family Court Unit.  Here, her passion for the law, safety and order, as these relate to all families of Monroe County, is witnessed in action in Shepard’s daily work, which includes numerous appearances in Family Court. Prior to that, she was an Assistant District Attorney in Monroe County. She has also operated her own private practice, and she was  Staff Attorney for the Capital District Women’s Bar Association Legal Project in Albany, repesenting women in domestic violence cases in Family Court concentrating on custody, visitation, and child support cases.

    She acknowledges the historic nature of her candidacy for a judicial position in Monroe County,  where an African American woman has never been elected to a family court judgeship. She knows she brings uniqueness and a diversity of perspectives to the bench.  She has observed how “ families, regardless of income levels, ethnicity , cultural, religious or social backgrounds  aspire to enjoy  a safe , happy life, and they wish to offer their members, to the best of their abilities, a supportive community in which to develop  and thrive, safeguarded  by equal treatment under the law.”  Zuleika Shepard pledges that the principle of applying the law to the facts “will continue to guide my work as Monroe County Family Court Judge – as it always has – if I am so honored with the people’s vote this November.”

    Colleagues, incumbent  leaders, citizens, neighbors of all political stripes, as well as new prospective voters who come in contact with and meet Zuleika Shepard, are immediately drawn to the story of this hometown woman.  This professional lawyer is also a karate champion and a black belt instructor who has served her community as a mentor of young  women 13-18 years of age.  From her adolescent years as a Wilson Magnet High School student in the Rochester City School District, to her  time at Ithaca College, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude,  through her distinguished completion of a J.D. at Hofstra University Law School (2007), Zuleika Shepard has exhibited qualities that are foundational  for those who aspire to serve on a judicial bench – empathy for others, patience,  professional and personal ethics, the ability to communicate, forebearance under demanding circumstances, and extensive knowledge of the law.

    Monroe County voters, we present to you Zukeika Shepard for the position of family Court Judge.  Judge for yourself!

  • From the MCDC Chairwoman: Help Us Flip the New York State Senate

    Monroe County Democrats are proud to support the efforts to secure a true Democratic Majority in the New York State Senate, and next week we have the potential to make history. We need to elect Shelley Mayer to the New York State Senate in the April 24th Special Election so we can to flip the chamber from #RedToBlue, deliver a Democratic trifecta to New York, and make Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins our first-ever female Majority Leader! After taking the Majority, we then will turn our focus to sending Upstate Democrats like Jen Lunsford (Democratic Candidate for the 55th State Senate District right here in Rochester!) to bring our voices to the new Senate Majority.

    To get there, Shelley’s campaign has begun building the largest Get Out the Vote program our state has ever seen. That means having volunteers from all over our state and country reach out to voters from now until Election Day. So far, the campaign’s 3,000 volunteers have knocked on 65,000 doors, made 100,000 phone calls, and talked to 25,000 voters. Now it’s time to get those voters out.

    SIGN UP HERE to help us elect Shelley Mayer and flip the New York State Senate by joining our GOTV virtual phonebank. MCDC will be hosting phone banks from Sunday, April 22nd to Tuesday, April 24th. Each call is a potential vote that can help win this election and make New York a truly Blue State. **Volunteers will need to bring a laptop or tablet if possible for these phone banks. Please let us know if you need accommodations when you sign up!**

    Thank you!

    Jamie Romeo
    MCDC Chairwoman

  • Meet Jen Lunsford at Edibles Tonight!

    I hope you will join me in stopping by Edibles at 704 University Avenueto meet and support Jen Lunsford, our Democratic candidate for the 55th State Senate district. 

    Jen recently received a “Gun Sense Candidate” rating from the Rochester Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. This would make sense, considering her opponent Republican State Senator Rich Funke recently voted against a bill to ensure that domestic violence offenders do not have access to firearms(S8121)Jen Lunsford is running to be an Upstate member of the new Democratic majority in the State Senate.

    As a working mom burdened by the cost of daycare and student loans, Jen knows all too well how stressful it can be for families to make ends meet. The Republican-controlled State Senate has too long stood in the way of real reforms that can help make our community better, safer and more prosperous. As a woman, mother of a small child, lawyer, activist, and a millennial, Jen will be a strong, passionate and enthusiastic voice for progressive reform in Albany. You can learn more about Jen on her website www.VoteJenLunsford.com; or you could always stop by and say hello 🙂

     

     

    Jamie Romeo
    MCDC Chairwoman

    Monroe County Democratic Committee
    1150 University Ave., Bldg. 5
    585-232-2410
    Rochester NY 14607 United States

  • Breaking the Mold on Family Court

    We are extremely proud and excited to share in the kick-off of our Family Court candidate’s press conference this morning. Below is a copy of the press release we wanted to share with you. We hope you learn more about our candidates and their historic campaigns and support them. You can sign up HERE to volunteer to and stay in touch on their campaigns. Thank you!

     

    Fatimat Reid and Zuleika Shapard Announce Their Candidacy for Monroe County Family Court Judges

     

    April 9th, 2018 (Rochester, NY) – MCDC Chairwoman Jamie Romeo, along with other Democratic Leaders and community members, proudly announced the historic candidacies of Ms. Zuleika Z. Shepard, Esq. and Ms. Fatimat O. Reid, Esq. for Monroe County Family Court today. Running for two open seats on Family Court, if elected these women will be the first women of color to be elected to Family Court.

                Zuleika Shepard is an experienced trial attorney, currently serves as a Deputy County Attorney for the Monroe County Law Department on behalf of assignors in paternity and child support cases in Family Court.  Prior to that, Ms. Shepard served as an Assistant District Attorney at the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, where she prosecuted hundreds of domestic violence cases and thousands of misdemeanor and violation cases throughout Monroe County. Ms. Shepard also served as Staff Attorney for the Capital District Women’s Bar Association: The Legal Project, where she represented women in domestic violence cases in Supreme Court, helping them to obtain divorces from batterers, and in Family Court, representing them in child custody and support, and family offense cases.  Over the course of her career, Ms. Shepard has litigated approximately 320 criminal, civil, or family court trials or hearings, 270 of which ended in a decision or verdict, and 15 of which were jury trials.

    “I am running to bring a much- needed perspective to the bench. I can relate to many of the litigants and children who appear in Family Court. I was raised in a single parent home in the city of Rochester. My family lived “paycheck to paycheck.” I have sat in the same city school classrooms and walked the same neighborhoods as many of the children. I can understand the struggles that many of the urban youth face and I want to be able to show them that they can make it.” Zuleika Shepard stated.

    Fatimat Reid is a seasoned litigator, transactional attorney, and administrator who presently serves as Chief of Staff of the Rochester City School District.  Before being promoted to Chief of Staff, Ms. Reid worked as an Associate Counsel in the Rochester City School District’s Department of Law, managing the district’s contracts and litigation.  Ms. Reid previously served as a Municipal Attorney for the City of Rochester Corporation Counsel’s Office, overseeing the City’s contracts and litigation.  Ms. Reid began her career as a litigation associate in private practice, working at the firms of Davidson Fink LLP and Wolpoff & Abrahamson LLP.  Fatimat Reid received the 2013 “Top Counsel Award” from the Daily Record, the 2017 “Top Women in Law Award” from the Daily Record and the 2017 “40 Under 40” Award from the Rochester Business Journal.  She was recognized in February 2018 as a “Woman to Watch” by the Democrat and Chronicle.

    “I am motivated by the Nigerian proverb “Ìlú tí a bá rè là ḿbá pé (Do not leave your people behind),” says Fatimat Reid. “While I was born in New York, I was raised in Nigeria and immigrated back to the United States at the age of ten, where I became the subject of a Family Court custody action and spent time in foster care. I had limited English proficiency and no exposure to American culture. I have a firsthand understanding of how frightening and frustrating the Family Court process can be for children and families, especially those who are particularly vulnerable due to poverty or their minority or immigrant status. We need judges on the bench who can bring their first-hand experiences into the courtroom to ensure that each child that comes before that court will have confidence that their best interests are taken in every decision.

    It has been over thirty years since a candidate of color was elected to any Monroe County judgeship, whether for Family Court, County Court, or State Supreme Court.  MCDC is focused on making the higher courts of Monroe County more reflective of the litigants and general community served by those courts because diversity is a core tenet of New York’s Court System, and critical to the fair administration of justice.  Diversity is also a core tenet of MCDC.  When elected, Ms. Shepard and Ms. Reid will be the first African American women ever to serve on Monroe County Family Court.  Both Ms. Shepard and Ms. Reid have been rated “highly qualified” by MCDC’s Judicial Selection and Screening Committee.

     

    Jamie Romeo
    MCDC Chairwoman

    Monroe County Democratic Committee
    1150 University Ave., Bldg. 5
    585-232-2410
    Rochester NY 14607 United States
  • From the MCDC Chairwoman: The New, New York State Senate

    Today you may have heard the news that the two factions of Democrats in the New York State Senate announcing their reconciliation. For years, a small group of Democratic State Senators have aligned with the Republican Conference, allowing them to maintain control over the upper chamber and what proposals can come to a vote. It has also allowed the Republicans to maintain significant power at the negotiating table over significant policies, like the State Budget.

    So what does that mean for us in Upstate New York? Ten years ago, the State Senate districts were redrawn to slice up Monroe County into 6 different senate districts. Only one (the 56th District, currently held by Sen. Joe Robach, a Republican) is completely within Monroe County. The remaining 5 include one or more of our neighboring counties. This has weakened our representation in the State Senate. Of the 6 State Senators that represent us, 2 live within our county. Three of those remaining (including one who represents a portion of the City of Rochester in the 61st District Michael Ranzenhofer, a Republican) live in counties that do not even border Monroe.

    So what does that mean for us? These districts were gerrymandered intentionally to make them difficult to run in against their Republican incumbents. However, over the past decade, something important has happened. More and more voters are becoming engaged with their political systems and more and more voters are enrolling in the Democratic Party. About 40.6% of all registered voters in Monroe County are currently registered Democrats.

    Today’s announcement means there will be a new majority in the State Senate, and we need to support and recruit local candidates to add and strengthen that majority.

    That’s why I hope you will come out to support our Democratic Challenger to Sen. Rich Funke in the 55th Senate District Jen Lunsford next week at her event on April 9, 2018, 5:30-7:30 PM at Edibles Restaurant & Bar, 704 University Ave, Rochester, NY 14607

    Today’s front page of the D&C highlighted recent legislation that will allow authorities to remove firearms from domestic abusers. This would look, to most, like a common-sense piece of legislation that was supported by our local Democratic State delegation, also co-sponsored by Majority Leader Joe Morelle, and passed both houses with overwhelming support. But Senator Rich Funke voted against this bill.

    I’ll repeat, Senator Rich Funke (who received a 93% rating from the NRA in 2016) voted against a bill that ensures that domestic violence offenders do not have access to firearms.

    So I hope to see you on Monday, April 9th to come and meet Jen. Ask her questions, find out where she stands on the issues and how she will be able to bring the voice of Upstate New Yorkers to the new majority in the State Senate. Clearly, our current representatives have not been voting in our interest.

    Jamie Romeo
    MCDC Chairwoman

  • Jen Lunsford for State Senate (District 55)

    This afternoon, Jen Lunsford announced her candidacy for the 55th District of the State Senate. Below is our press release we wanted to share with you. You can learn more about Jen at www.VoteJenLunsford.com or sign up to volunteer and get involved in this race HERE.

    JEN LUNSFORD ANNOUNCES CANDIDACY FOR 55TH STATE SENATE SEAT

    Mother, Activist, Attorney Seeks to Add Her Voice to Stalling New York State Senate

    February 26, 2018 (Rochester, NY) – MCDC Chairwoman Jamie Romeo today stood with residents of the 55th State Senate District to help announce the candidacy of Jen Lunsford. Jen will be seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination to take on Senator Rich Funke in the 2018 General Election.

    The 55th State Senate District stretches represents the eastern portions of Monroe County and a western section of Ontario County, including the communities of Victor, East Bloomfield, West Bloomfield, Richmond, Bristol, South Bristol, Canadice, Naples, Irondequoit, Rush, Mendon, Pittsford, Perinton, Penfield, East Rochester, and the east side of the City of Rochester.

    Jen Lunsford, Democratic candidate for the 55th Senate District, stated “When I look at this community I see people just like me – working parents waking up every day trying to balance their careers, and their families. I also see moms and dads, teachers and students, who watch the news and are afraid of what might happen in their schools. And while I see a community full of people like me, when I look at the State Senate I see something very different– there are 63 Senators in the State Senate; only 14 of our them are women and almost none of those women has young children. As a working mother of a toddler, I think it’s time to change that.  It’s time for us to take our seat at the table so that the needs and worries of hardworking parents can be truly represented in Albany.

    MCDC Chairwoman Jamie Romeo added, “From the City of Rochester to the farming communities in East Bloomfield, the 55th State Senate district is a diverse collection of Upstate New Yorkers who need a representative willing to sit down and listen to their needs. Right now, these voters are represented by a man whose highest approval rating comes from the NRA* and who has failed to deliver on his promise to change Albany. Jen is a working mom who knows how to put an end to childish squabbling and do the hard work that gets real results for people. She’s exactly the kind of person we need representing our region in the State Senate.”

    Jen Lunsford currently lives in Penfield with her husband Scott Hildebrandt and their son, Mack. She is currently an attorney at Segar & Sciortino where she advocates for people at some of the most difficult times in their lives. She also serves as the Co-Chair of Lawyers for Good Government, a progressive legal activist group, and sits on the board of the Anthony Poselovich Memorial Foundation, which helps families.

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    *Sen. Funke received 93% rating from NRA in 2016. VoteSmart.org

     

    Jamie Romeo
    MCDC Chairwoman

    Monroe County Democratic Committee
    1150 University Ave., Bldg. 5
    585-232-2410
    Rochester NY 14607 United States
  • From the MCDC Chairwoman: I’m Angry

    I’m angry, to a point beyond words at this moment but please bear with me.

    My son is six now and listening to everything – particularly the television. Whether its one of his Lego shows or the news, he’s listening. And I had to tell my family to keep the news off TV today.

    I can remember where I was the day of the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012. I was in my office in the County Office Building, and I’m pretty sure I watched the news all day and accomplished nothing. I then went to my farewell party, as I was about to take the exciting transition from my beloved Democratic Caucus in the County Legislature, to start managing then-State Senator Ted O’Brien’s transition. It was supposed to be an evening of laughs, drinks, and fun. And my skin was on fire every moment I was there and I left as soon as I could.

    Then I get home. I pick up my just a few weeks past one-year-old son and I weep. I hold him for minutes and just cry with the world; then quickly try to dry my face so everyone can stay happy.

    But these disasters are not uncommon. Gun violence is ripping through families throughout our country, and in our community, on a daily basis. But the growing sense of helplessness and despair on this issue just seems to grow stronger. I sit here now and think, how will I explain this? How will I not instill fear in him of the world, but still make him smarter and aware?

    But we are not helpless, there is so much we can do. And eliminating all guns is not the answer and not a reasonable solution. Yes, we need smarter and effective legislation (particularly at the federal level) but we must also make ourselves better gun-sense citizens. I steal that from a term I have heard at our local Moms Demand Action group, right here in Rochester, New York.

    We should know how to have conversations with our family and neighbors about guns in the home, safe storage, proper training without having to devolve into a political nightmare. We’ve sent people to the moon damn it – how can we not find a constructive way to talk about this issue?!

    I sit here with pain in my heart that can only be a drop compared to what parents every night go to bed with after losing a child to this tragedy. But I want you to know that you don’t have to feel helpless. MCDC has been proud to host the Rochester chapter of Moms Demand Action in our offices, and they provide some incredible tools, including the Be Smart campaign among others. There are ways we can fix this. We can be the change we need to see in this world. That’s why I wanted to share this with you tonight.

    – Dominic’s Mom
    [Jamie Romeo, MCDC Chairwoman]

     

     

    Moms Demand Action is a part of Everytown for Gun Safety and has an active chapter here in Rochester NY. Formed in response to the shootings at Sandy Hook, we are now in our 5th year and while Congress struggles to act – we’ve been working locally, in communities, cities and states – to take sensible action to keep our communities safe. Check out one of our upcoming meetings or events or invite chapter lead, Cha Ron Sattler-Leblanc to come and talk to your group about Moms Demand Action’s strategy and how you can join them. (Moms Demand Action is a single issue, non-partisan group open to all who want to work toward common sense gun reform.  You don’t have to be a Mom to join!)
    Find us at these upcoming events:
    Change on Tap! February 28 at 7 PM, Lock 32 Brewing
    March Meet-Up – Topic – ADVOCACY DAY – working with State Legislators – March 4, 1 PM, 1872 Cafe
    If you have questions, contact Cha Ron at charon.rochester.ny@gmail.com
    Thank you for taking a moment to read this tonight.
  • Change Starts with Us

    I don’t know about you, but I’m a child of the American Dream.

    When I reflect on my life, so many of the opportunities I’ve been given are because of the hard work, wisdom, and foresight of those who came before me: I can read because of the public schools; I can vote because of women’s rights leaders; I can speak my mind, practice my faith, and petition the government to change a law – all because of those who came before me.

    The Americans who came before me believed in us. They worked hard, took risks, fought to expand our civil rights, and invested in a stronger, brighter future.

    Today the responsibility falls on all of us to continue that legacy. That’s why, at the Monroe County Democrats, our platform is simple:

    • We believe in building a better world for our children.
    • We support one another as we strive to realize our own dreams for ourselves and our families.
    • We care for those who came before us — the generation that worked to create a better world for all of us today.

    But we can’t do that work alone.

    I hope you’ll join me in pledging to keep building a brighter world and stronger community and donate today.

    I am so impressed and overwhelmed by the compassion, wisdom, and commitment in our community. Thank you for all of your hard work and continued support.  Together, we really are the Builders of the American Dream.

    Sincerely,

    Jamie Romeo
    Monroe County Democratic Committee Chairwoman
    1150 University Avenue, Bldg 5
    Rochester, NY 14607
    P: 585-232-2410
    F: 595-232-1223

     

     

     

     

  • For Prospective Candidates

    Here at the Monroe County Democrats, candidate recruitment and training is a key part of our mission. We are always seeking out the very best talent — from the private sector, community organizations, schools, and non-profits — and preparing local leaders for public office.

    For 2018 and beyond, we are especially seeking candidates for these positions:

    • Town and village court judges
    • Town and village boards
    • Town and village Democratic Committee members

    Great leaders come from all walks of life and backgrounds, and it’s hard to define all of the factors that will make a person likely to succeed in public office.

    In general, we are looking for candidates that have demonstrated success and bring practical experience to each position, along with a passion for and commitment to our community.

    For example, judicial candidates should have relevant experience practicing law, and they should be willing to come before the bar association judiciary committee for an evaluation of their qualifications for the bench. Town and city board members should have experience managing a staff, budget, and long-term organizational strategy.

    For more information about running for office, please contact your local town or city Democratic Committee leaders or the Monroe County Democratic Committee Chairwoman, Jamie Romeo.

    The recommended deadline to notify us about your intent to campaign for public office for 2018 has past, however, we will continue to meet with prospective candidates for specific positions past that deadline in preparation for the next available electoral opportunity.  If you are interested, let us hear from you!

     

  • We’re Kicking Off Petition Season!

    Hard to believe, but petition season is almost here! Our first day of petitioning will be Tuesday, March 6th.

    In New York State, petitions are the first step for candidates hoping to run for elected office. Over the next few weeks, thousands of community members will sign their support for our local leaders to help get their names on the ballot.

    Petitioning is also our first opportunity to get fired up for the coming year and reconnect with other Democrats in our neighborhoods. While signing petitions, community members can sign-up to volunteer on campaigns, host a lawn sign, or participate in voter registration drives.

    If you’re able to walk door-to-door carrying petitions, please contact your local town or city Democratic Committee leaders or our Operations Director, Henrietta Herriott. We will be putting together our petition-carrying teams over the next few weeks. We’ll start with Congressional petitions in March, then carry statewide and local petitions in June.

    For prospective candidates, it’s not too late to run! The deadline to notify us about your intent to campaign for public office is Wednesday, February 28th. Please visit our recruitment page for more information.

    To stay up-to-date with important news and events, please sign up for our newsletter.

     

     

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