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Get to Know Our 2023 Candidates for Town and County Positions

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

October 15th, 2023


What's the most important thing you can do for the environment in this election? Cast an informed vote!


In an effort to learn more about their environmental priorities, Color Penfield Green asked the candidates for Monroe County Executive, Monroe County Legislative Districts 9 and 14, Town Supervisor, and Town Board a set of questions earlier this month.


We asked them to either answer our questions or to provide a narrative of their position on environmental issues for our community, discussing climate change specifically. Their responses are below.


The Candidates


*These candidates have yet to respond. If and when they do, we will update this blog within 24 hours.

 

Candidate for

Monroe County Executive




Please share a narrative of your position on environmental issues for our county. Please discuss climate change specifically.



[Mark Assini] I’m grateful for the opportunity to respond.

The environment will be a priority in my administration. Reducing carbon emissions, elicit discharge and waste must combine smart economic policies with environmental protection.

Every piece of equipment, every building and every project must balance the need to reduce carbon emissions, elicit discharge to our waterways and other waste with cost efficiency. The two are not at odds.

I look forward to working with all neighbors in all neighborhoods to discuss opportunities in composting, plantings and other green initiatives important to our communities.

Thanks,

Mark Assini

 

Candidate for

Monroe County Executive




Please share a narrative of your position on environmental issues for our county.  Please discuss climate change specifically. 


[Adam Bello] When I took office, I made a commitment to address climate change both at the county operations level as well as community wide. While Monroe County had a decades-long track record of notable environmental projects and initiatives, there was not a dedicated and cohesive climate action plan towards a meaningful and measurable reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG)

emissions. The Climate Action Plan (CAP) Phase I, developed during my first term and adopted by the County Legislature, established an aggressive goal of 80% reduction in GHG emissions below 2019 levels by 2050 for County operations. The sectors within County operations targeted for GHG reductions include Buildings & Facilities, Transportation Fleets, Expressway Lighting

& Signals, Pure Waters Infrastructure and Solid Waste Facilities. Several priorities established in the CAP Phase I are already underway including new EV charging stations at several County facilities for county and public use, green building designs, procurement of electric mowers for County Parks, development of an organics management plan, a food scrap recycling pilot program at two County facilities (Monroe Community Hospital and the County Jail) as well as with the Town of Pittsford and 500 of its households.


In addition to completing and implementing the CAP Phase I, I also supported the County in becoming a certified New York State Climate Smart Community and Clean Energy Community. The CAP Phase II, which is currently under development, will establish GHG emission reduction goals for the entire community including residential, industrial, commercial and institutional uses. I expect the CAP Phase II recommendations will include a more expeditious move towards electrifying buildings and vehicles, establishing opportunities for community-wide food scraps & organics recycling, exploring affordable green community power, and building more energy efficient buildings – just to name a few. I believe the County must lead by example, but it needs community support and engagement to achieve meaningful and lasting GHG emission reductions.


Following on the CAP Phase II will be another important step in addressing climate impacts in Monroe County - through development of a Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Plan. While the CAP focuses on GHG emissions reductions, the CARP will focus on how Monroe County and the community can better adapt and to protect our homes, roads, water utilities, power systems,

floodwalls, fleets and communications networks from the devastating effects of climate change including flooding from more frequent and intense rainfall, draught, prolonged windstorms and damaging ice storms.


I am proud of the work our certified operators perform around the clock at the County’s two water resource recovery facilities where most of the wastewater from the City of Rochester and surrounding towns and villages is collected, conveyed and treated. The County’s Department of Environmental Services (DES) Pure Water team continues to achieve an excellent compliance record. I have supported nearly $60 million in capital upgrades at these facilities so that operators have reliable and effective water treatment equipment and systems. I am also grateful for the excellent work the Monroe County Stormwater Coalition has done for nearly two decades restoring the quality of our local waterbodies and educating the public on putting only “rain down the drain”.


As County Executive, I celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the ecopark that serves as a one-stop-drop for hard-to-dispose-of items that are recoverable and recyclable. I am grateful for the private partners at the ecopark; namely WM, Clean Harbors and Sunnking that have made the ecopark a success. Through these public-private partnerships, the County established one-of-the-first-in-the-nation vape and e-cigarette recycling programs for residents, school districts and

small businesses. In one year, over 5,500 vape devices were collected from school districts and residents; thereby, keeping toxic and hazardous chemicals out of the environment. The County also established a lithium battery recycling program at the ecopark through a partnership with Li-Cycle, located here in Rochester. Not only do lithium batteries pose an environmental threat, but

they also pose a very serious and well-documented fire risk. I look forward to expanding the materials accepted at the ecopark so that recyclable and recoverable materials can be diverted from the landfill.


Public education and outreach about proper recycling is one of the many responsibilities of County DES. Under my leadership, a first-in-the-nation smart speak app for Alexa was developed that allows residents to simply say “Alexa, open Monroe County recycling” and ask questions about what can and can’t be recycled as well as what material is accepted at the ecopark, its hours of operation and newsletters. I expect this household technology will grow in

popularity, affordability and capability, giving residents, especially the visually impaired, an easy and convenient way to learn how to recycle right.


As County Executive, I will continue to support community-wide, climate-friendly, affordable green projects and initiatives to protect the precious environment we enjoy and call home here in the community of Monroe.

 

Candidate for Monroe County

Legislative District 9




Color Penfield Green advocates for a number of climate and sustainability issues:

  • Healthy yards and conservation

  • Decarbonization and beneficial electrification of fleets and buildings (for Monroe County businesses, non-profit organizations and residences)

  • Food and waste reduction (i.e. composting)

  • Alternative transportation (public transportation, walking, biking)

  • Sustainable development

  • Adaptation to a changing climate


Of these issues, please choose three that you feel should have the highest priority for our county and explain why you chose them.


For each of the three you chose, give an example of a concrete action (or several) you would support in addressing that issue.



[Mel Callan] 1. Food and water waste reduction - about 3 yrs ago we started composting in our yard. We have a small compost bucket on our counter and empty it within our 7 acres every couple of days. When our children visit, it is obviously more often. We also save most unrecyclable products and take a trip to the county ecopark or Alpco every so often. Our refuse company comes weekly but we usually need pick up every other week as we have little trash. These are simple efforts that I believe many families are beginning to appreciate and learn what options they have.


County legislators can and should provide basic information to get families started within our own districts. We are fortunate in Penfield to have Color Penfield Green provide the newsletter and programs at the Community Center. I know that some of the programs are filled long before the event.


2. Decarbonization and beneficial electrification of fleets and buildings - I fully support the County Climate Action Plan (CAP). Certainly Monroe County has made an impact in our community with Phase I of the County Climate Action Plan which identified and prioritized goals, strategies and initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from County-owned sites, facilities and operations.

Phase 2 is currently active and Monroe County is now undertaking a community-wide GHG inventory to better understand emissions from the County and all its stakeholders -- including residential, commercial, industrial, municipal, and all other energy dependent activities that occur within Monroe County. I look forward to getting Phase 2 completed so we can provide information and opportunities for Monroe County residents.


3. Alternative transportation - throughout Penfield and the county, we need more sidewalks and identifiable bicycle lanes. This August, Monroe County completed the Countywide Active Transportation Plan and I look forward to working with the county executive and the county legislature to support the implementation of the plan.


4. Sustainable Development - In 2018, I was part of the small group of activists who forced a referendum to Save Shadow Pines from the development of 250 houses. Almost 7,000 residents came to the community center and voted in favor of a referendum to have the town spend $3.65 million to purchase the land and the Clark House and maintain as open space with some recreational opportunities.


We continue to advocate for the right balance of utilizing the 212 acres.

I would like to work with the county, the town, the Genesee Land Trust and other environmental groups to evaluate opportunities in Penfield and across the county for open space, recreation and any potential for well planned and sustainable development.


Thanks for the opportunity!


Mel Callan

Legislature District 9 Candidate


 

Candidate for Monroe County

Legislative District 9



As of 10/15/23, Mr. Dondorfer has not responded to our emailed request. If he does answer our questions, we will update this post.

 

Candidate for Monroe County

Legislative District 14



Color Penfield Green advocates for a number of climate and sustainability issues:

  • Healthy yards and conservation

  • Decarbonization and beneficial electrification of fleets and buildings (for Monroe County businesses, non-profit organizations and residences)

  • Food and waste reduction (i.e. composting)

  • Alternative transportation (public transportation, walking, biking)

  • Sustainable development

  • Adaptation to a changing climate


Of these issues, please choose three that you feel should have the highest priority for our county and explain why you chose them.


For each of the three you chose, give an example of a concrete action (or several) you would support in addressing that issue.



[Susan Hughes-Smith] I have selected the three Color Penfield Green priorities where the connection to the role and function of County government is the most clear:

Food and waste reduction (i.e. composting): The State of New York has passed a Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Law which requires large food waste producers to divert food to people in need and for other material to go to a composting facility if one exists within 25 miles. Currently, there is only one facility being developed by a private entity in Monroe County. The quantity of food waste material being generated will require more facilities to be opened and the County government should help. Ecopark has been a successful public-private partnership and we should be pursuing a similar approach for organic waste management. Monroe County recently embarked on a Pilot Project for Food Waste Diversion. While I welcome the project and the data that will be collected, the facility selected creates biogas for electrical generation as opposed to compost. There may be a role for biogas but composting facilities are the best solution as they better address the climate pollution while retaining the vital nutrients to be returned to our soils. Meeting the goals of the NYS Climate Law will mean diverting all organics from the waste stream by 2035, this is an opportunity to create jobs.

Transportation (electrification, public transportation, walking, biking): Transportation accounts for roughly 40% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the State of New York making it a priority climate issue. Electrification will be a key feature of our future public and private vehicle fleets and the County of Monroe is already helping with that transition by installing public charging stations at 9 different locations throughout the County. However, for too long, we have relied on a transportation system that was designed exclusively around the personal vehicle leaving thousands of residents' needs unmet. There are residents that must rely on alternatives due to financial limitations and health limitations that make private vehicle ownership an impossibility and the current options have not been safe or adequate. However, Monroe County has just completed the development of an Active Transportation Plan. Implementing the plan to create an interconnected network of walking and biking trails has the potential to create a more equitable, and healthier transportation system. Studies also demonstrate that when people walk or bike they are more likely to visit local businesses so making investments in this infrastructure is an economic opportunity. In addition, we need to improve the public transit system and encourage the development of housing units and businesses along transit routes.

Sustainable development: The Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act have created never before seen opportunities for local governments to access funds to play a strategic role in the transition to a green energy economy. With the ability to apply for considerable grant money Monroe County should quickly increase staff to prioritize this opportunity partnering with other municipalities, non-profits, and local businesses to create economic investments that will benefit our community for years to come. To this end, I have been advocating that Monroe County should have a Director of Sustainability (or similar title) who would have the authority to work across departments for the implementation of the Active Transportation Plan, Climate Action Plan and Comprehensive Plan. In addition, I would like the County to play a key role in the development of an organization for Sustainable Business initiatives. Ultimately, I believe, the successful program will be business-led for the business network but the County should help by acting as the convener.


Thanks, Sue


 

Candidate for Monroe County

Legislative District 14



As of 10/15/23, Mr. Reilly has not responded to our emailed request. If he does answer our questions, we will update this post.

 

Candidate for

Penfield Town Supervisor



Color Penfield Green advocates for a number of climate and sustainability issues:

  • Healthy yards and conservation

  • Decarbonization and beneficial electrification of fleets and buildings (for Monroe County businesses, non-profit organizations and residences)

  • Food and waste reduction (i.e. composting)

  • Alternative transportation (public transportation, walking, biking)

  • Sustainable development

  • Adaptation to a changing climate


Of these issues, please choose three that you feel should have the highest priority for our community and explain why you chose them.


For each of the three you chose, give an example of a concrete action (or several) you would support in addressing that issue.



[Joint response from Jeff Leenhouts, David Bast, and AJ Hetzke]


Insight from Jeff Leenhouts, David Bast, and AJ Hetzke


As Color Penfield Green advocates for climate and sustainability issues, the 2023 Republican town candidates are pleased to share insight into our platform. Collectively we are:

— Jeff Leenhouts for Town Supervisor

— David Bast for Town Council

— AJ Hetzke for Town Council


First off, please allow us to thank the members of Color Penfield Green for their work on behalf of our town and our residents. We anticipate the possibilities for Penfield's future alongside each of you, and we are committed to ensuring our town remains an ideal community in which to live, work, and raise a family.

We thank the current and past members of the Penfield Town Board, and subsequent Penfield boards and committees, for being one of, if not the first communities to make a commitment to sustainability many years ago. We intend to continue the programs that have been established, with a willingness to adapt and create new programs as environmental needs and concerns continue to arise.


Per request of Color Penfield Green, we will address the following three issues:


Alternative transportation

(public transportation, walking, biking)

In 2012, the Town of Penfield installed the first public electric vehicle charging station in Monroe County. The first location at the Penfield Community Center, followed by Penfield Town Hall and Harris Whalen Park.


We also are proud of our sidewalk systems that make Penfield safe and walkable, including the traditional Four Corners in the village and the busier four corners at 250 and 441. The town has a sidewalk plan to continue installing sidewalks each year to improve pedestrian mobility around the town. Much of this is funded by new development; each newly developed subdivision is required to install sidewalks on both sides of the street. Developers may seek a waiver from the

Town Board and pay a fee per lot in lieu of installing sidewalks, in which case the fee paid adds to the town sidewalk fund. Thus, a residential subdivision may have sidewalks installed on one side of the street, possibly get a waiver from the Town Board for the other side of the street, and the sidewalks which were to be installed on the other side are instead installed on a major road to help connect various areas of the town.


Plus, while our hiking and biking paths are more so for recreation and exercise vs. transportation, our town’s trail system is extensive and ever growing through the dedicated efforts of our Trails Committee.


Adaptation to a changing climate

The Town of Penfield has a history of making innovative choices that reduce use of resources, waste, and improve efficiencies. In 2010, the Penfield Town Board established an Energy and Environmental Advisory Committee (EEAC) to identify, research, and advise leadership on all matters of sustainability. Areas of focus include reducing the town’s consumption of energy and resources, use of renewables, recycling, following public policy and related opportunities, public

education, and promoting environmental stewardship.


Two key projects addressing our changing climate are streetlighting and solar energy.


Twenty-four years ago, in 1999, while other municipalities continued to lease streetlight fixtures from RG&E, the Town Board decided to purchase the fixtures directly from RG&E and replace inefficient mercury vapor lights with more efficient high-pressure sodium (HPS) fixtures.


Over the years, the flexibility gained from this decision has saved taxpayers many thousands of dollars in reduced equipment lease charges and energy costs and put Penfield ahead of the curve for using more sustainable light fixtures.


Five years ago, the town began swapping HPS fixtures with even more efficient LED lights to further reduce consumption and costs. The switch to LED is being done gradually over a few budget cycles and in neighborhoods as replacement fixtures are needed. The goal is a complete transition to LED lights during our anticipated tenure on the Penfield Town Board, if elected.


The town’s first venture into solar power was a self-sufficient sewer pump station that went online in 2012, followed the next year by a solar-powered crosswalk signal installed on Scribner Road at Scribner Road elementary school and then a solar panel array on the roof of the Harris Whalen Lodge in 2014 that offsets nearly half of that facility’s annual electric use.


Solar energy continued to be a priority, with the town completing in 2019 a solar photovoltaic array at its DPW complex at 1607 Jackson Road — with the goal of offsetting about 75 percent of the Town of Penfield’s overall electrical usage at its main facilities (town hall, community center, DPW). 


In addition to these admirable town efforts, Penfield Town Board members last year created the position of Sustainability Engineer. In this new, but very important, role, Sara Waterman handles a wide range of responsibilities, such as coordinating the town’s CCA (electricity supply) program, grant writing, implementation of sustainability initiatives, community outreach, and serving as staff liaison to the Energy and Environmental Conservation Committee (EECC) and the Transportation Committee.


We will support Waterman and her efforts, which also include the development of the Town of Penfield Sustainability Code that outlines rules and regulations for car charging stations, energy generation, and battery storage.


Sustainable Development 

AJ Hetzke, a 2023 Republican candidate for Penfield Town Board, has served on the Penfield Planning Board for 26 years, and the last nine as board chairman. He has had a front-row seat to hundreds of proposed development projects and looked at each one from an array of angles, including environmental impact and sustainable development.


In addition, Hetzke has spent his career in his family’s business saving energy and improving the environment as an energy efficient lighting professional. Hetzke is a Certified Lighting Efficiency Professional and long-term member of the Association of Energy Engineers. He also serves as the Chairman of the Illuminating Engineering Society’s Lighting Upgrades Committee, which writes and publishes an ANSI standard for upgrading lighting systems in commercial

buildings. His family’s business has been saving energy in commercial buildings for more than 40 years.


Jeff Leenhouts, 2023 Republican candidate for town supervisor, has worked for many years for the company his father founded, Home Leasing. As Penfield balances progress and preservation, Leenhouts will bring to the position of supervisor extensive experience with managing numerous real estate projects, including lot development, presenting sustainable-development projects to

town boards, to best balance development and preservation.


If elected, we will continue to work with the EEAC to identify and engage in practices to manage town government’s impact on the environment in ways that deliver value to taxpayers. This includes reducing energy use, increasing use of renewables, participation in state and federal programs, and adding sustainability practices to public policy including Town Code and Comprehensive Plan updates. We will continue to seek ways to reduce energy consumption,

increase use of renewable energy sources, reduce material going to landfills by reusing and recycling what we can, and adopting other sustainable practices when appropriate.


The Town Board also has focused on providing the Penfield community with opportunities to reduce, reuse, recycle, and manage resources in ways that help to lower residential and business expenses.


We intend to create new opportunities to best serve our community, and to continue current ones that have been proven successful — annual events for residential drop-off and recycling, secure document destruction/recycling, household hazardous waste collection; a community victory garden on town land; and free public electric vehicle charging stations.

 

Candidate for

Penfield Town Supervisor




Color Penfield Green advocates for a number of climate and sustainability issues:

  • Healthy yards and conservation

  • Decarbonization and beneficial electrification of fleets and buildings (for Monroe County businesses, non-profit organizations and residences)

  • Food and waste reduction (i.e. composting)

  • Alternative transportation (public transportation, walking, biking)

  • Sustainable development

  • Adaptation to a changing climate


Of these issues, please choose three that you feel should have the highest priority for our community and explain why you chose them.


For each of the three you chose, give an example of a concrete action (or several) you would support in addressing that issue.



[Tiffany Rice] Thank you for your invitation and for the important work that Color Penfield Green is doing. All the issues you mentioned are indeed critical for our county's sustainable future.

Priority Issues:


Sustainable Development: Sustainable development is a linchpin for addressing environmental concerns. We must plan for responsible growth that doesn't compromise the environment. A concrete action I support is the development of green building codes and incentives that encourage energy-efficient construction and the use of renewable energy sources, specifically solar and wind, in new developments.

Alternative Transportation: Promoting alternative transportation methods is key to reducing emissions. I advocate for expanded public transportation services, safe biking lanes, and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure. Investing in electric buses, for instance, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions while providing efficient public transit.

Adaptation to a Changing Climate: Climate change adaptation is essential. We must prepare our communities for the inevitable impacts of a changing climate. I support the development of local climate resilience plans that include strategies like flood mitigation, green infrastructure, and emergency preparedness measures to protect our residents and resources.

In a broader sense, my position on environmental issues for our county is anchored in acknowledging the reality of climate change and taking proactive steps to mitigate its impacts. This involves reducing our carbon footprint through energy efficiency, transitioning to renewable energy sources, conserving natural areas, and supporting local, sustainable agriculture. By working together at the town, county, state, and federal levels, we can build a resilient and sustainable future for our community.

I look forward to collaborating with Color Penfield Green and other like-minded organizations to make Penfield a leader in addressing climate and sustainability challenges. Thank you for your support and dedication to these important issues.

Best,

Tiffany

 

Candidate for

Penfield Town Board



See joint response with Jeff Leenhouts.


 

Candidate for

Penfield Town Board



Color Penfield Green advocates for a number of climate and sustainability issues:

  • Healthy yards and conservation

  • Decarbonization and beneficial electrification of fleets and buildings (for Monroe County businesses, non-profit organizations and residences)

  • Food and waste reduction (i.e. composting)

  • Alternative transportation (public transportation, walking, biking)

  • Sustainable development

  • Adaptation to a changing climate


Of these issues, please choose three that you feel should have the highest priority for our community and explain why you chose them.


For each of the three you chose, give an example of a concrete action (or several) you would support in addressing that issue.



[Kevin Berry] Three priorities that I see for our community are adaptation to a changing climate, sustainable development, and alternative transportation. Sustainable development and alternative transportation are integral parts of adapting to a changing climate.


The Penfield Town Board has an obligation to lead our community in adapting to climate change. Due to the sweeping scope of climate change, government at every level must play its part.


For decades, it has been the dream of many people in our area to retire and move to Florida. In the future, people in Florida and other states will dream of moving to temperate places like Penfield to escape the harshest effects of climate change. Penfield must be forward-thinking with the knowledge

that our population may well increase due to these “climate refugees.” This is in addition to other effects Penfield may well face, such as flooding in the lower lying areas, and damage to our family farms. The Town needs to prepare for these scenarios while doing its utmost to combat climate change.


This starts with a realistic town climate action plan. Penfield must have leaders who recognize climate change, are serious about slowing it and mitigating its effects, and will formally plan accordingly.


We need to look at other communities that are outpacing us in these efforts and, frankly, steal their best ideas. We must also utilize companies and organizations that are sharing their knowledge and expertise regarding adaptation to climate change. The town board must also pursue and obtain every available bit of funding, such as grants, that will support our efforts to adapt to climate change. Every step we take is an investment in the future and will reap tangible economic rewards. The town government must take every step it can while minimizing the cost to the town, and not increasing taxes.


Sustainable development and alternative vehicles are among the tangible actions we must take. We also must ensure that every tree possible is preserved, and that new trees are planted.


Beyond that, though, I want to build a Penfield community that is prepared to face climate change together. Americans have been at their best when united facing a common challenge. Our Democratic candidate for Supervisor, Tiffany Rice, envisions the development of trash districts that will not only save the residents money and reduce truck traffic, but will strengthen the sense of community in Penfield. This is a great way to build a community that can best adapt to the diverse effects of climate change. For example, we may not consider that climate change will affect people’s mental health. A strong community will help to mitigate those mental health challenges, and many other challenges, foreseen and not, that arise.



Sustainable development is an important part of slowing, and adapting to, a changing climate. We can meet our needs without compromising the future.


The Town Board must ensure that construction in the town is as sustainable as possible. Buildings should be as green as is feasible. This includes things as simple as efficient water fixtures. The town should consider incentives for sustainable buildings, and public-private partnerships to promote sustainable construction.


The Town Board must protect the green space in Penfield. It also must protect the trees in the town. We have heard from residents upset by the unnecessary removal of trees. No tree should be removed from public lands unnecessarily, and the decision to remove a tree should always involve an arborist - something that I intend to make happen.


The Town Board must also encourage sustainable practices such as community gardens and composting in the town.



Alternative transportation is another important facet of slowing and adapting to a changing climate.


New buildings should support electric vehicles, and existing buildings must be retrofitted for electric vehicles in an affordable way. We need convenient electric vehicle charging stations throughout the town. The town government should work with all deliberate speed toward the town vehicle fleet being electric.


An important element of our platform is improving the safety of walking and biking in Penfield as part of alternative transportation and public safety plans. This includes the addition of bike lanes, more sidewalks, and more traffic control devices such as crosswalks, stop signs, and traffic lights. Moreover, the town must work with the County Sheriff’s Office and the State Police to increase enforcement of traffic laws in Penfield. Cooperation with the County and State is critical to all these transportation efforts.

 

Candidate for

Penfield Town Board



See joint response with Jeff Leenhouts.


 

Candidate for

Penfield Town Board



Color Penfield Green advocates for a number of climate and sustainability issues:

  • Healthy yards and conservation

  • Decarbonization and beneficial electrification of fleets and buildings (for Monroe County businesses, non-profit organizations and residences)

  • Food and waste reduction (i.e. composting)

  • Alternative transportation (public transportation, walking, biking)

  • Sustainable development

  • Adaptation to a changing climate


Of these issues, please choose three that you feel should have the highest priority for our community and explain why you chose them.


For each of the three you chose, give an example of a concrete action (or several) you would support in addressing that issue.



[Linda Teglash] With any of these issues, I recognize that Color Penfield Green provided a detailed response for the Penfield 2023 Comprehensive Plan; with that, my overall goal will be to leverage knowledge, expertise, and ensure climate actions and sustainability are a top priority and the existing Energy and Environmental Conservation Committee is given a higher sense of urgency.


Of the climate and sustainability issues advocated by CPG, I have listed my top 3.


Adaptation to a changing climate.

This concerns me the most. So many times, in our history, we have been provided data and we have been warned of likely negative consequences and we have not responded adequately. Communities are already impacted by the

climate crisis through more frequent heat waves, droughts, and other extreme weather. The extensive Canadian forest fires resulting in toxic smoke in our area was a direct impact to every Penfield resident. We will see migration to our area as many other regions, states, and countries continue to realize the climate crisis and its increasing threat.


To become more resilient, I will advocate for:

  • Creating a climate action plan to identify vulnerabilities and solutions. A risk assessment must be part of the plan.

  • Strengthening the Energy and Environmental Conservation Committee and to bring together residents, experts, and local organizations to develop the plan through an inclusive process.

  • Focusing on key risks like stormwater runoff, infrastructure capacity, emergency preparedness, and preserving green space to mitigate urban heat effects.

Adaptation will require collaboration but is crucial to safeguard our future.


Sustainable Development

As part of planning and adapting, sustainable development is key to our future. I want Penfield to focus on sustainable development including sustainable land use. I love the fact that Penfield has already made some changes and accommodation (e.g., EV charging stations).


I will advocate for:

  • Reviewing zoning rules and updating to encourage compact, walkable, mixed-use new developments and examine middle housing

  • Requiring new constructions meet green building standards (solar panels, EV charging, net zero energy)

  • Directing growth to infill existing developed areas rather than expanding outward

  • Developing a fleet electrification plan to transition municipal vehicles, transit, school buses, and other public services to electric.

This focus and these actions can have the ability to improve the quality of life for all Penfield residents and provide us with economic benefits.


Healthy yards and conservation

Natural landscapes provide many benefits including water conservation, wildlife habitat support, and carbon sequestration. But the pursuit of lush green lawns can undermine these. I would partner with garden groups and conservation organizations to educate and encourage sustainable yards.


Specifically, I will advocate for:

  • Workshops on incorporating native plants, reducing turf grass, and composting to demonstrate how these changes reduce water demand, chemical runoff, and waste.

  • Public recognition of beautiful sustainable yards, for example through awards or features in newsletters.

  • Planting native vegetation in parks and public spaces to lead by example.

  • Expanding community gardens to bring people together around conservation.

With education and commitment from residents, we can transition to natural landscapes that exemplify environmental stewardship.

 

Color Penfield Green is a non-partisan organization and does not endorse any political candidate(s). We look forward to collaborating with whoever holds office in January, 2024.




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