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County executive candidate: connecting students to their community

by Kari Ashworth - News Editor
Tue, Oct 22nd 2019 09:10 pm
County executive candidate Adam Bello spoke to students at The College at Brockport as part of the Understanding Monroe County series.
County executive candidate Adam Bello spoke to students at The College at Brockport as part of the Understanding Monroe County series.

The College at Brockport’s Office of Community Development welcomed Monroe County Executive candidate Adam Bello on Friday, Oct. 18, as part of its Understanding Monroe County series. 

Bello hails from Irondequoit, New York, and he went to college at Binghamton University, where he began his journey in politics. As a senior, Bello’s first internship was with the late congresswoman Louise Slaughter in Washington, D.C. After Bello returned to Western New York, he got his first job working constituent services for Assemblyman (now-congressman) Joe Morelle. Bello also served as the executive director of the Monroe County Democratic Committee. 

“I’ve always sort of been interested in politics and government, so I cut my teeth doing government work with constituent services and then went on to work on campaigns and spent some time working for the party,” Bello said. “After that I really wanted to get back into government because I sort of missed the public service aspect of the work. And I went to work as the chief administrator for the district attorney’s office, so I worked for Sandra Doorley.”

From his job in the district attorney’s office, Bello had the opportunity to run for Irondequoit Town Supervisor, and he won the election for that position. Then, he was appointed to county clerk by Gov. Andrew Cuomo when the spot became available.

During his tenure as county clerk, Bello created a few different programs to help the community, including a vacant property task force that aims to combat zombie properties, which are ones that have been abandoned or foreclosed. Bello also helped create a program that issued IDs to people about to be released from jail. 

“We worked out a program where the DMV mobile unit now goes into the county jail periodically — we work with the staff ahead of time to figure out who’s about to be released and we talked to them, they talked to the inmates to figure out, you know, what kind of ID, who wants one,” Bello said. “And we periodically go into the jail and process non-driver IDs or renewed driver’s licenses, so that when there’s any inmate who wants to have an ID before they’re released, they can get that.”

Bello said a lot of areas in Monroe County do not seem to be working: job opportunities are relatively stagnant, the opioid crisis is not being handled well enough and the county has a large concentration of poverty. He also believes some people in office spend too much time thinking of appealing programs rather than creating new ones that will actually help the community. 

“Instead of worrying about the politics and announcing programs that sound good, what we really should be doing instead is figuring out what the challenges are, how are we going to move the needle, how are you going to look different as a community 5 or 10 years from now than it does today,” Bello said.

Following Bello’s presentation, he opened the floor up for questions. Kate Demskie, a senior at the college, asked, “what plans do you have that affect college students directly?”

Bello believes Monroe County should do a better job connecting with students in order to keep people in the county. 

“What I think we should do is work with the colleges and universities and bring together the institutions of higher education, we should bring together the transportation agencies like RTA [Rochester-Genesee Regional Transit Authority], we should bring together housing agencies, to bring all these different pieces together and create programs that would help link college students to the business community, to internships and co-op opportunities, so that you can gain that experience, and be able to stay in Rochester to do it,” Bello said. “And it’s going to require housing, it’s going to require transportation, it’s going to require that linkage to the business community here that exists, but we can do that as a county because the county touches all those different fields. The county invests in transportation, we invest in programs that work with the university, so we’re already talking to all these agencies we have to bring them together.”

Alexis Holleran, a freshman majoring in political science, was interested in how Bello would prioritize the Rochester City School District.

“What would you do to make any programs better — because I’ve worked in School 25 for a while and it’s just a bad environment for education — how would you make that environment better so they can learn better?” Holleran asked.

Bello responded saying he believes the community school model would be the best approach. This means any service the families in the school needs would be available through the school, including social or daycare services.

Bello’s opponent, incumbent Cheryl Dinolfo, will be at the college on Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 3:35 p.m. in Union 119. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5.

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