• Congressional Challenger Nate McMurray Speaks Out against Rep. Chris Collins

    North Tonawanda native and Grand Island Town Supervisor, Nate McMurray, is running for congress in the 27th Congressional District, a deep red district currently represented by Republican Congressman Chris Collins.  Upon first hearing of the Congressman’s indictments for insider trading, Mr. McMurray thought it best to stay quiet until the dust settled. Then he heard Rep. Collins’ statement Wednesday evening, Aug. 8, denying any wrongdoing and Mr. McMurray knew he needed to say something. The opportunity to do so came the next morning at the New York State United Teachers building in downtown Rochester. Surrounded by campaign workers, elected officials, and the media, Mr. McMurray pledged to speak out against the corruption in Washington, DC. and give his constituency a congressman they could be proud of.

    “It’s time for him [Rep. Collins]to go,” McMurray stated. “It’s time for new leadership. We’re not talking about progressive versus Republican. Left versus right. We’re talking about right versus wrong. This is an argument about who is honest and dishonest. Who is going to serve our community and represent our community.”

    “We have this idea right now that America is so divided; I bet your dinner table is divided. We have people in all different parties, and ideas, and beliefs. This idea that those people are over here and we’re over there; that might be good for talk radio but it’s not good for America. And that’s not the type of leader I’m going to be. I’m going to represent all of NY27.”

    When asked if he thought a Democrat could win in this district he nodded and said,”We’re going to win. But this would be a win not just for Democrats. This would be a win for NY27.”

    If you are interested in getting involved or donating you can do so at Mr. McMurray’s campaign website, votemcmurray.com.

     

  • Candidate Profile: Fatimat Reid for Family Court Judge

    The American Dream is alive and well in Fatimat Reid, a candidate for Monroe County Family Court Judge, who is a prime representative of this ideal. Her unique life story began in the state of New York, where she was born. As a child, her family moved to Nigeria, where she was raised during an important period of her life. She returned to the United States and then, at the age of ten, she became the subject of a Family Court custody action and spent time in foster care. These experiences give her a special perspective on Family Court. “I understand, from first-hand experience how frightening and frustrating court proceedings can be for children and all involved, particularly for those stricken by poverty and those with immigrant identity status.”

    Not only does Ms. Reid bring significant personal experience to the judicial bench from the perspective of a child involved in a family court case, she also brings extensive professional experience. Reid has established herself in the legal community as an attorney who has broad legal experience having served private practice as well as government entities. She currently serves as Chief of Staff for the Rochester City School District (RCSD). At RCSD she supports the school district’s mission of providing quality education while promoting wellness for all children and their families in the community. Ms. Reid commented, “I am honored to work in conjunction with educators and families serving the needs of all students”

    A passion for and knowledge of the law completes an impressive professional profile for Ms. Reid. She graduated from the University at Buffalo Law School and is a member of the Monroe County Bar Association, the Rochester Black Bar Association and the Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys. She began her legal career as an attorney with the law firm of Davidson Fink LLP and with Wolpoff and Abramson. Most recently, she has served as a City of Rochester Municipal Attorney and as an Associate Counsel for the Rochester City School District.

    Her campaign’s Web site lists and describes numerous awards and important recognitions that Fatimat Reid has received from the community and from professional organizations in Monroe County.

    When asked her perspective about current situations, such as the treatment many children and adolescents are experiencing at the U.S. southern border and other cases involving child abuse in Monroe County, she said that she will “adhere to and apply the law as it relates to each case that arrives in front of her with fairness and expediency.” In doing so, she always prioritizes “the well-being of children.”

    Reid also referenced the principles contained in the United Nations Declaration of Rights of the Child, adopted by the UN in 1989 and brought into force in September of 1990. That universal proclamation establishes the rights of the child with the goal that each child “may have a happy childhood and enjoy for his/her own good and for the good of society the rights to freedoms.” This document enshrines universal principles of justice that call “upon parents, men and women as individuals, voluntary organizations, local authorities and governments to recognize these rights and to strive for their observance,” concluded the judicial candidate for Family Court in Monroe County.

    Experience, fairness, and knowledge of the law: Fatimat Reid has it all!

  • Get Ready to Vote in the Upcoming Elections: September Primary and November General Election

    Get ready to vote in the upcoming elections. There is a New York state and local primary on Thursday, September 13 from noon to 9 p.m. and there is a general election for federal, state, and local offices on Tuesday, November 6.

    You still have time to register to vote for the primary – the deadline is August 19.

    The deadline to register to vote for the November general election is October 12.

    There’s a great Web site you can use to find out if you are registered to vote, where you vote, the candidates for which you will be voting (sample ballots are not yet available, but will be soon), to change your voting information (e.g., change your address if you’ve moved), and to request an absentee ballot. Here’s the link:
    https://www.monroecounty.gov/etc/voter/

    How to Register to Vote

    If you need to register to vote, you can use the link, https://www.monroecounty.gov/etc/voter/ and then click on the tab, “Register to Vote.” You will be taken to copy of the voter registration form that you can fill out and mail in. If you are registering in Monroe County, the mailing address is Monroe County Board of Elections, 39 Main St. W., Rochester, NY 14614. Mailing addresses for the Boards of Elections in other counties are on the form itself.

    A Spanish version of the voter registration form can be found at:
    https://www2.monroecounty.gov/files/MonroeCounty-Mail-Spanish-2015.pdf

    You can also call the Monroe County Board of Elections at 585-753-1550 to request a voter registration form be mailed to you.

    You can even register online at the New York state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Web site, if you have a New York driver’s license, learner’s permit, or a non-driver identification card. Here’s the link to use:
    https://dmv.ny.gov/more-info/electronic-voter-registration-application

    Eligibility to Vote

    You must be a United States citizen to register to vote.

    The minimum age for voting is 18 at the time of the election, so you may register if you are not yet 18 but will turn 18 before the election in which you wish to vote. So, for example, if you want to vote in the primary on September 13, you can register even if you’re only 17 as long as you will turn 18 by September 13. Similarly, you may register for the general election even if you’re now 17 as long as you will turn 18 by November 6. You do, of course, have to register by the appropriate registration deadlines specified above.

    If you are convicted felon, you are eligible to register to vote once you have completed your sentence including probation.

    Who is on the Ballot in the Upcoming State and Local Primary?

    At the state level, there is a two-way primary for the Democratic nomination for the office of Governor. The candidates (in alphabetical order) are the incumbent, Andrew Cuomo, and Cynthia Nixon.

    There is also four-way primary for Attorney General. The candidates are Leecia Eve, Tish James, Sean Patrick Maloney, and Zephyr Teachout.

    At the local level, primary candidates will vary depending on where you live. You can use the https://www.monroecounty.gov/etc/voter/ link to check your ballot as the date of the state and local primary (September 13) grows near.

    Where can I get Information about the Candidates?

    Most candidates have Web sites where you can learn more about them. Do an Internet search using the candidate’s name to find their Web site.

    In addition, a number of non-partisan groups offer candidate information. Examples are:
    • The League of Women Voters – New York state: http://lwvny.org/
    • The League of Women Voters (Rochester chapter): http://www.lwv-rma.org/
    • Ballotpedia, an encyclopedia of American politics and elections: http://www.ballotpedia.org/

  • Infiltrating American Democracy: Team Watch or Team Defend?

    By Lottie Gonzalez-Habes

    In New York state, and in Monroe county’s towns, suburbs, and cities, we are witnessing events coming from multiple fronts signaling that America’s democracy is being infiltrated. The ultimate goal is to weaken core beliefs we have established as a nation. The country, granted, is an imperfect union, but it remains a world model for free societies. Infiltration has begun with subtle messaging from bad “actors” entertaining audiences in American living rooms. It has spread, unintentionally, with help from small town radio and television outlets, and it has reached high pitch with the popularity of “people friendly,” technology-driven social media platforms. When voices dare to publicly express an opinion about these infiltration efforts aloud, gullible partisans and the opposition brush concerns aside by labeling it “exaggeration,” “hyperbole,” and other dismissive terms.

    History and writers teach us that language has been a most effective weapon when enemies of democracy have attempted and succeeded in subverting societies in other parts of the world. Our American principles of freedom of press, transparency, government accountability, participation, and justice for all peoples are undergoing a brutal attack. The attack, however, is delivered with “soft salesman” tactics. The attack on democracy is reaching American audiences using all the traditional propaganda tools: repetition, smiles, big lies, humor, and appearance of strength, as well as appeals that exploit emotions and grievances some may feel. If this sounds familiar to you as a reader, if we think that what we see happening has happened at another time, or if what we hear taking place even vaguely reminds us of high school level history classes, it is because all of it has happened before in other places to people around the world. Why then doubt that similar infiltration efforts are taking root in our own county, cities, and rural and urban places?

    History confirms that a new version of the same ideas (which have destroyed freedoms around the world before) are being introduced in the United States. In 1944 Hideki Tojo, Prime Minister of Japan and Minister of War appropriated powers and promised a “new order in Asia” with his aggressive policies. And never forget how Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda (1933) believed that “people never rule themselves” and that “rank and file are usually more primitive than we imagine . . . Propaganda must therefore always be essentially simple and repetitious”.

    Most valued American principles are being undermined in front of our eyes by Trump’s Republican administration now in power: respect for public service, the right to unionize and organize, public schools, the right to vote and be elected in free elections, having a free and independent press, national security and public safety agencies, equal protection under the law, environmental protections – all are being undermined while we watch. Examples of recent attacks and the dismantling of important American principles are documented and published in local and national media but are too often to be dismissed.

    Are we choosing to be spectators or are we going to be defenders? All Democrats, whether we lean or consider ourselves left, centrist, or conservative, must stand in indivisible coalition acting locally to defend ourselves, the nation, its citizens, and those democratic principles we strongly hold.

    What can we do?

    Here in Rochester it’s time to choose a team. I am not talking about voting for a candidate running for office or choosing a campaign in which to volunteer. The decision is larger. We are called to decide whether we will be spectators on Team Watch, viewing a “reality” spectacle courtesy of Trump’s Republican broadcasting cronies, or are we going to work, resist and act locally in meaningful ways to advance democracy and defeat its enemies. It’s on us: Team Defend!

  • Vote in the Democratic Primary for Federal Offices on June 26

    If you are a registered Democrat, then you are eligible to vote in the upcoming primary on Tuesday, June 26. Polls are open from noon to 9 p.m. We will be voting for the person we would like to represent us in the general election in November for the United States Congress, replacing Louise Slaughter.  That race is the only one on the ballot. It’s important that we turn out for the primary on the 26th. Let’s let our voices be heard and serve notice that we are a force to be reckoned with in November.

    Voter registration for the June 26th primary has closed, but you can apply by mail for an absentee ballot until Tuesday, June 19, and you can apply in person for an absentee ballot until Monday, June 25.

    Not sure if you’re registered, want to find out where your polling place is, or want to see a sample ballot, then use this Web site to check:

    https://www.monroecounty.gov/etc/voter

    Just fill in the required information, and you will see your polling place and a tab to view your ballot.

    The only race on the June ballot is the primary for the Democratic candidate for the general election in November for U.S. Congress. The primary election for state and local offices is September 13.

    The candidates and their Web sites (listed in alphabetical order) are:

    Rachel Barnhart                http://rachel2018.com

    Adam McFadden             https://www.mcfaddenforcongress.com

    Joseph Morelle                 https://www.votemorelle.com

    Robin Wilt                           https://www.wiltforcongress.com

    For more information about the candidates, you can visit their Web sites; visit the Web site of the League of Women Voters (they offer information about each of the candidates, as supplied by the candidates themselves) at https://lwvny.civicengine.com ; or check local news for information.

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • 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

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