• Monroe Democrats Celebrate Election Day Victories

    “This has been a big night for Democrats here in Rochester, Monroe County, across New York State, and America,” said Brittaney Wells, Chairwoman of the Monroe County Democratic Committee.  “Voters came out in droves to support sensible, hard-working Democratic candidates across the board, and we have started the ball rolling to take back our county next year and our country in two years.  The Democratic Party will move ahead after this election to offer voters candidates who will stand up for their values in next year’s local elections and beyond.  Today we gave voters a choice between policies, candidates, and government that believe America’s best days are ahead, and that our country, and the communities that make it up, are strongest when we celebrate and embrace the diversity that defines us.”

    Joe Morelle led the ticket for local Democrats with his resounding victory for the Congressional seat long held by Louise Slaughter.  Democrats also won local contests throughout Rochester and Monroe County and had strong showings for Governor Cuomo, Letitia James, Tom DiNapoli, state assembly, and other state-wide candidates.

    “Tonight local Democrats delivered, and I am grateful to Monroe County voters for their support of our party and its candidates,” said Chairwoman Wells.

  • It’s Time to Vote! Important Information for Voting on Tuesday, Nov. 6

    Important information for voting in the general election for federal, state, and local offices

    Polls are open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 6

    Absentee ballot deadline is today:  Oct 30 – last day to postmark an absentee ballot application

    You will be casting TWO votes for Democratic Congressional candidate Joe Morelle

    There are TWO elections for our Congressional representative, divided into two columns on your ballot.  You will cast one vote for the two-year Congressional term beginning in January 2019 and one vote to complete the unexpired term of former Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, beginning immediately. The Democratic candidate is Joe Morelle. If you want Mr. Morelle to fill both Louise Slaughter’s unexpired term AND fill the two-year term beginning in January, you must vote for him in BOTH COLUMNS.

    Click here to see a sample ballot.

    Don’t Know if You’re Registered to Vote or Where to Vote?

    Use Monroe County’s Online Voter site 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.

    Another great resource is Everything You Need to Know to Vote.

    Who are the Democrats on the Ballot?

    Federal level: 

    State level:

    Mr. Ciaccio and Ms. Gallaher are not running against each other as there are two openings on the Supreme Court so you may vote for both candidates.

    Local level (including representatives to the New York State Senate and the Assembly)

    Ms. Reid and Ms. Shepard are not running against each other as there are two openings on the Family Court so you may vote for both candidates.

    Other candidates will vary depending on where you live.  Click here to check your ballot.

    The Monroe County Board of Elections has a complete list of all candidates running in Monroe County in all parties for any elected office.

    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 or click on the live links above.

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

     

  • Get Ready to Vote on Tuesday, November 6

    Get ready to vote in the general election for federal, state, and local offices on Tuesday, November 6. Polls are open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

    Deadlines

    • Oct 12 – last day to register to vote in person or to postmark a mailed-in registration form
    • Oct 30 – last day to postmark an absentee ballot application

    Don’t Know if You’re Registered to Vote or Where to Vote?

    Use Monroe County’s Online Voter site 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.

    Another great resource is Everything You Need to Know to Vote.

    How to Register to Vote

    The Monroe County Online Voter site can also be used if you need to register to vote (see the tab entitled “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. Your voter registration form must be postmarked no later than Oct. 12.

    Click here for a Spanish version of the voter registration form.

    Click here to 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:

    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 are the Democrats the Ballot?

    Federal level: 

    State level:

    Mr. Ciaccio and Ms. Gallaher are not running against each other as there are two openings on the Supreme Court so you may vote for both candidates.

    Local level (including representatives to the New York State Senate and the Assembly)

    Ms. Reid and Ms. Shepard are not running against each other as there are two openings on the Family Court so you may vote for both candidates.

    Other candidates will vary depending on where you live.  Click here to check your ballot as we get closer to the election date.

    The Monroe County Board of Elections has a complete list of all candidates running in Monroe County in all parties for any elected office.

    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
    The League of Women Voters (Rochester chapter)
    Ballotpedia, an encyclopedia of American politics and elections

     

  • Brittaney Wells is Elected Chairwoman of the Monroe County Democratic Party

    Brittaney Wells accepted the nomination to become Chair of the Monroe County Democratic Party after receiving an overwhelming vote by city and town Democratic committee members at their meeting on October 3, 2018. Wells is the first African-American to hold this position locally.  

    In her acceptance, she said Monroe County Democrats must embrace a spirit of unity in order take full advantage of the opportunity Democrats have next year “to win the County’s Executive’s race.” “Tonight I accept your nomination and I am humbled by the trust you placed in me,” Wells said, adding that, “I want our efforts, this year and the next, to be a warning to the Republicans here, in Albany, and in Washington. Starting this year, the focus for the party is to win a congressional seat, the legislative and judicial races, and more.”

    Wells defined the Democratic principles that have guided her from early on as a member and officer of the Democratic Party and thanked party leaders who were present, including Mayor Lovely A. Warren, Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, Assemblyman David Gantt, County Clerk Adam Bello, and Sheriff Todd Baxter.  She stated that her agenda is to continue building bridges and said that in the past there was the impression of intra-party differences.  “This is a new day in the Monroe County Democratic Committee,” she said.

    Wells recalled the values that attracted her to vote and become a member of the Democratic Party.  “Whether it is respect for diversity, equal rights, immigration rights, health care access, LGBTQ protection, environmental protection, economic development and more, as Democrats, standing up to Republicans and defeating their
    dangerous policies is our job,” she said.

    In her closing remarks, Wells honored President John F. Kennedy by paraphrasing his answer to the question of what it is to be liberal: “If by a Democrat they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people – their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties – someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a Democrat, then I’m proud to say I’m a Democrat.”

  • Candidate Profile: Jen Lunsford for NY State Senate

    Jen Lunsford is a lawyer, a mom, and a community volunteer running for the New York State Senate against Rich Funke in the 55th District.  Jen is 36 years old and resides in Penfield with her husband, Scott, a Pittsford native, and their two-year old son.  After graduating from Boston University School of Law in 2009, Jen moved to Rochester to begin her legal career.  Since then, she has worked to protect the interests of sick and disabled people through her work as an attorney, and to advocate for children as a volunteer with the Center for Youth.  Jen believes that public service works best when it actually serves the public.  She has pledged to hold regular public forums and open office hours throughout her district once she is elected.

    “Elected office is a customer service job. Too many elected officials forget who they work for and shut themselves off to opinions that differ from their own.  When you are given the privilege of serving your community you owe it to those you represent to hear them out, even if they didn’t vote for you or donate to your campaign.  When you are elected to office, you should represent everyone, even those who disagree with you.  Something I have learned over the course of my legal career, where I meet people from all walks of life, is that we are far more the same than we are different.  We all want the same things– quality schools, good healthcare, safe communities and good job opportunities for ourselves and our families– we just sometimes disagree about how to get there.”

     

     

  • The Story Must Be Told: Wage Disparity in the U.S.A. Affects All Women, but Latina Workers See the Widest Gap

    The Chief Executive Officers of companies in the United States earn salaries counted in the millions of dollars. Let’s take for example Robert A. Iger from Disney who receives compensation of $36.3 million per year, Indra Nooyi from PepsiCo with 31.1 million, or Jeffrey Bewkes from Time Warner, with $32.6 million a year. What do you think is the hourly wage of someone who makes $36.3 million a year? If you do a simple calculation you will discover that Mr. Iger (Disney) makes approximately $17,307 and some odd cents an hour!

    The salaries received by the heads of these well-known companies are so large, that it is hard for the average reader, man or woman worker, to visualize what the amounts represent as someone’s “take home pay.” Even more difficult would be to calculate the impact such salary would have on the ability of the average American to own a home, afford quality health insurance, or pay for college for their children without seeing them drag an enormous debt after graduation.  In the United States, Latinas and Black women workers suffer the biggest pay gaps among workers.  As a result, it is difficult for women workers in general and Latinas in particular to achieve for their families the basic components of the American Dream, even at modest levels. Pay equity is a central democratic principle supported by the rank and file, as well as by the leadership in our Democratic Party, and voters expect and deserve no less.

    Granted, we are not trying to present a false side-by-side equivalence here.  American CEOs deal with the enormity of their workplaces, commanding thousands of top and middle management personnel and millions of production workers around the country. They answer to millions of consumers and stockholders whom their companies serve. It is very important work these CEOs do. Now let’s consider, for the sake of contrast, the numbers contained in the salaries of the mentioned heads of companies, and the numbers that define the salaries of other important American workers. The salaries of hourly paid working women must be calculated within America’s economic reality, as well.   Latina workers undeniably contribute to the strength of the national economy by playing vital roles in the country’s workforce.

    In the United States Latina and Black women workers stand at the end of the line in terms of compensation for work done. The National Partnership of Women and Families published a statistical fact sheet in April 2018, illustrating the average women’s wage gap as evidence of the persistent gender wage gap, that continues to affect women and their families in the country.  Women workers of Latino/Hispanic heritage are impacted more. The numbers show that they are paid just 54 cents for every dollar paid to non-Hispanic white men. Meanwhile, “overall, women employed full time, year-round are paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to men employed full time.”

    The fact sheet also cites a publication by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Breadwinner Mothers by Race/Ethnicity and State, stating that “more than half of Latina mothers are key breadwinners for their families” and their homes “rely heavily on their wages to make ends meet and get ahead.”

    In simpler terms, The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) documents, once again, the discriminatory wage gap. The report titled, Black and Hispanic Woman Paid Substantially Less than White Men (Gould, E., Schieder, J. March, 2017) points at a wage disparity that resulted in Black women taking home $7.63  less an hour than their white male counterparts and Latinas/Hispanic women taking $8.90 less an hour than non-Latino white workers.  The purpose of citing these reports is not to reignite the old “battle between the sexes” nor to insert a discussion about race in the middle of an economic argument. Both race and gender are topics for legitimate discussions at another time. Undoubtedly, we stand in solidarity with all men and women workers, whether white, African American, Native American, Asian, or Latino/Hispanic, all deserving pay equity for equal work performed. At the same time, there is a need to speak up to educate about and repudiate this biased wage gap affecting Latina/Hispanic working women.

    Members of professional unions, like our local Rochester Teachers Association (RTA), the statewide New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), and the United Auto Workers (my family & I included) are appropriately represented by organizations dedicated to supporting and advancing pay equity for all its affiliates. Sadly, this is not the case for far too many Latino women and women in general who work for businesses and corporations across the country. Exhibit “A” is the iconic Lilly Ledbetter, who as a supervisor for Goodyear Tires and in Alabama (1979-1998) fought wage discrimination, upon discovering she was paid less than her counterpart male co-worker while performing similar kinds of work. After a series of setbacks, her fight resulted in the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first bill signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2009.

    But the fight is not over. A most alarming reason is that Latinas in the workforce see a wage gap regardless of their educational level.  For example, a full time, year-round average female worker without a high school diploma, made 60 cents for every dollar earned by a non-Hispanic, man. In the case of Latinas with a bachelor’s degree, they earned 66.3 cents for every dollar earned by a white non-Latino male counterpart. Merely six cents more.

    A series of dates are scheduled nationally to observe “Equal Pay Days” in 2018.  It is time to participate actively in promoting these observances and advancing the cause. How? By calling our elected officials at the municipal, county, and state levels to ask of them their vocal and legislative support for such an important economic and social issue.   Women and men in our lives, let’s spread the word!

     

  • Part I – Election Integrity Taking a Back Seat

    It sounds a bit like the premise of a Bond (or possible Austin Powers?) movie:

    Hoards of the best (and worst) hackers descend upon Las Vegas in a pair of events shrouded in silence and mystery with one nefarious purpose: hack the election.

    In this case though, the events are called Black Hat USA and DEF CON, and they recently wrapped up on the 12th of August, 2018.  DEF CON, and its more nefarious sibling, Black Hat, were back-to-back conferences for those interested in . . . let’s say “computer security and best practices.”

    Oh, and the circumvention thereof.

    This year’s DEF CON, the 26th, was themed “1983: The View from Dystopia’s Edge,” and true to this glaringly obvious tagline, the premise was about governmental security and the use of technology to control people (and their collective attention span).  Speakers had topics such as “A Journey Into Hexagon: Dissecting a Qualcomm Baseband” and “Hacking PLCs and Causing Havoc on Critical Infrastructures.”

    We all know the stereotypes.  Reclusive hackers with bad personal grooming and worse morals.  To be fair, in aggregate, those only fit in movies and in “presidential” debates that include He Who Will Not Be Named.  But with topics like these, it’s not a far stretch to imagine that the typical event-goer was of a different sort.

    Now, with all of this info, you might be tempted to box this passel of “nerds” away in your head as a means of dismissing them, but these folks are the real deal.  One of the headline speakers was Rob Joyce, Senior Advisor for Cybersecurity StrategyFor the NSA.  And if the NSA takes these people seriously, it’s a pretty solid indication that so should you.

    This year and last, DEF CON included a “Voting Village” made up of retired (but standard issue) voting machines used in elections around the United States.  The aged Diebold TSX machines (still in use in Georgia, by the by) were there, as well as others such as ES&S and WinVote.  It should inspire no confidence when you read the following headlines, then:

    To be fair, the 11-year-old hacker didn’t actually change the results of Florida’s presidential vote; she changed the displayed tally which, upon any further inspection, would have been shown to be incorrect.  And the 17-year-old hacker didn’t actually hack a state election; he used the same machines that are currently being used by various states in our union, and was able to fully modify votes, change candidate names, and even gave Gary Johnson (remember him?) 90 billion votes In one state.

    In case the lines weren’t drawn clearly enough for you: tweens and teens hacked regulation election equipment in under an hour.  What chance do our elections stand, as is, against a hostile nation? Now, I do not wish to dismiss the talent of these two young computer enthusiasts in the least, but they were in all likelihood far from the best hackers at either conference, and their efforts were part of a very public showing of how poor the computer and operational security is/was surrounding our voting machines.

    This type of activity, attempting to break, characterize flaws, and publish, is inherent to something called “white hat hacking,” and although this type of work might sometimes irk companies and institutions (who are often the very public recipients of shame for easy or trivial hacks, such as those on display at the Voting Village), the sum total of these activities is positive: they force a change that increases our security.

    Earlier on, I mentioned that DEF CON was part of a pair of conferences, the other being Black Hat.  Two guesses as to the intent of that conference?

  • Download Your Proxy Form for the Upcoming Special Election for Congress Here

    Here is the form to use for the proxy vote if you are unable to attend the Nominating Convention for the Special Election for the 25th Congressional District of the Monroe County Democratic Committee to be held on Monday, August 27th, 2018 at 6:00 P.M.

    ==> click here.

    This form can also be found on the 2018 Candidates page.

  • 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!