• kathrynrygg

Get to Know the Candidates for Penfield Town Supervisor and Monroe County Legislature

Updated: Oct 7, 2021


Color Penfield Green asked the candidates for Town Supervisor and County Legislature, district 9 a set of questions about their vision for sustainability for Penfield and Monroe County.

  • Town Supervisor: Marie Cinti, unopposed

  • County Legislator, District 9: Mel Callan and Paul Dondorfer

 

Town Supervisor: Marie Cinti, running unopposed


Before diving into these questions, I think it’s important to discuss where the Town of Penfield has already been implementing sustainable solutions to address environmental impact. Penfield has taken several steps to be a more sustainable community, and I look to continue and expand upon the work already done by Town leadership.


Many are not aware that the Town of Penfield was one of the first to replace mercury vapor lights with more efficient high-pressure sodium fixtures -- and saving the community thousands of dollars in energy costs. Now the town will look to gradually replace these with LED lights, for even further reduction in energy use and costs.


The Town also installed a solar array at its DPW facility on Jackson Road, and solar panels on the Harris Whalen lodge. Penfield was one of the first towns to install public EV stations to encourage electric car usage. Town leaders established an Energy and Environmental Advisory Committee (EEAC) to identify, research, and advise on matters of sustainability. The EEAC has already championed and stewarded the inception of Community Choice Aggregation in the Town and can work on other issues as well.


This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but I believe it’s important to review some initiatives that Town leadership has already undertaken.



1. What do you see as the top 3 environmental concerns for Penfield and

what is your plan to address these?


Not in rank order:


1. The hundred-year storms that we hear about now occur with increasing

frequency. This will have an impact on planning, building, infrastructure repair and maintenance, etc. as we need to prepare for more erratic weather conditions. We will need to update our town building codes, maintenance and replacement schedules to take into account more severe weather.


2. Town leadership must always consider how community growth impacts the

environment: wetlands, open space, air quality, etc. For example, as CPG notes below, vehicle idling is a major cause of air pollution. What can our town do to minimize idling as road development and maintenance issues arise? We can, for example, encourage electric vehicle use by providing additional charging stations and requiring new developments to adopt more sustainable engineering practices.


3. From my work at the non-profit Water for South Sudan, I have a great respect for water quality and conservation. I will work with our Town leadership to implement Town policies to keep water resources clean and to minimize water usage whenever possible. This includes reviewing our use of pesticides, weed killers, etc.



2. Are you in favor of drafting a Sustainability and/or Climate Action Plan for Penfield? If so, how will you motivate non-government stakeholders such as outside agencies, businesses, homeowners, and landlords to participate?


Yes, I am in favor and would look to the Town’s already established Energy and

Environmental Advisory Committee (EEAC) to identify, research, and advise on

matters of sustainability and development of a plan. Also, the Town is considering the hiring of a Sustainability Engineer in 2022, an action I support, to lead these efforts. The Town will also be expanding upon communication efforts with residents by making the current halftime communication position a full time one.



3. Please describe an initiative you will champion that simultaneously addresses both climate change and inequity in Penfield.


Low-income families and individuals cannot always afford retrofitting their

home to embrace sustainable technologies, as there are often more pressing

and immediate needs before them. I will promote any sustainability programs

that offer tax incentives, grants, etc. for low-income families to adopt more

sustainable practices. The Town of Penfield is currently looking at how it can

encourage low-income families to participate in CCA, and I support this effort.



4. Transportation accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions by sector in our region - 40%. What strategies would you utilize to discourage the use of gas-powered cars to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles, mass transit, biking, and walking in our district?


Encouraging residents to reduce their use of gas-powered vehicles has to

take a multi-faceted approach. Efforts should include more plentiful charging

stations to make it easier to charge an electric car, and also include creating

bicycle friendly roads and establishment (and maintenance) of sidewalks in

our neighborhoods.


One reason I am running for Town Supervisor is the unique position it places me in to build and develop partnerships: with individuals, businesses, schools, and

community organizations. I look forward to partnering with Color Penfield Green to develop and implement programs that educate residents and benefit our community.


 

County Legislature, District 9: Mel Callan


1. What do you see as the top 3 environmental concerns for our district and what is your plan to address these?


A. Assist businesses and homeowners connect with programs for energy efficient upgrades. Monroe County Legislature passed the C-PACE program to fund clean energy projects in commercial buildings. The program will be promoted by the County’s Planning and Development Department. Legislators, with their various connections throughout the community can also help promote it.


B. Organic waste and composting - collaborate with city/town governments, businesses and community organizations not only to reduce methane gases but to provide job opportunities. Establish informational sessions working with key leaders in various communities.


C. Infrastructure improvements not only for all modes of transportation but protection and improvement in our open spaces and parks which were a source of relief from the pandemic over the last several months. We will be in a better position to encourage visitation to these areas with necessary improvements. I will support the Bring Monroe Back Recovery Agenda.


D. Given the recent tragedies across our country resulting from climate changes, we need to focus on the vulnerabilities throughout our community and work with our emergency preparedness team.



2. Please describe an initiative you will champion that simultaneously addresses both climate change and inequity in the county.


I would start with support for the work of the Monroe County Climate Action Plan. Legislator Mike Yudelson and Candidate Sue Smith are members and their committee is responsible for passage of the C-PACE legislation. They are also working with NYSERDA and recently had a presentation about the Electro-Thermal System Integration Pilot Project.


Many more exciting ideas to come.


I am pleased that they also involve youth who are leaders in climate action activities.


Finally, I have been a member of the Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning for over 20 yrs and have been Chair for several years. It is a wonderful example of how governments can work together (we have city, county, RHA, city water authority, RSCD, URMC and others who participate every month) to reduce lead poisoning and the resulting lifelong effects on our young children, most of whom live in poor housing. We were successful in getting a city ordinance that reduced housing hazards and thus reduced the number of poisoned children but our work is not done.


A key member of our coalition is the Program Director for RENEW (Rochester Energy Efficiency and Weatherization) which has invested over $4 million for hundreds of income qualifying home owners.


3. Transportation accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions by sector in our region - 40%. What strategies would you utilize to discourage the use of gas-powered cars to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles, mass transit, biking, and walking in our district?


About a month ago, I met with PCSD Superintendent Tom Putnam for the purpose of introducing myself and discuss how we can work together. Since then, I have reached out to him to inquire about electric buses and he reported that the district has applied for two grants but have not heard yet. The plans for the new transportation facility (which will be voted on in December) will include the ability to charge electric buses as older buses are replaced.


The district is also exploring affordable solar and wind options.


Finally, the district established a Sustainability Committee which will have a cross section of members and they are meeting later this month.


I have had a conversation with County Executive Adam Bello about using infrastructure funds not only to improve the 17 county roads in Penfield but to have safe bike/walk only lanes and sidewalks on all county roads. We will compete with the city and other towns for funding but the devastation from the effects of climate change will make these issues a priority.


 

County Legislature, District 9: Paul Dondorfer


1. What do you see as the top 3 environmental concerns for our district and what is your plan to address these?


The top 3 environmental concerns for our district are preserving our green spaces, long-term sustainability plans, and seeking cost-efficient green energy measures to protect taxpayers and homeowners. In preserving our green spaces, I’m proud to support the Parks Revitalization

Initiative which will invest millions in renovating and preserving County parks, such as Ellison Park in Penfield. I will continue to work with Town officials to advocate for our Town parks and to seek out opportunities to expand our green spaces. Implementing long-term sustainability plans is integral to preserving our environment not only now, but long into the future, which is why I was proud to support the creation of the Monroe County Climate Advisory Committee to produce a Climate Action Plan for the County of Monroe and would support the same within the Town of Penfield. To protect taxpayers and homeowners, we must seek cost-efficient green energy measures through utilization of advancements in energy. I strongly support initiatives such as the Town of Penfield’s Community Choice Aggregation which provides residents with

cost savings, long-term rate stability and greater renewable energy options.



2. Please describe an initiative you will champion that simultaneously addresses both climate change and inequity in the county.


Climate change and inequity are oft found in correlation, and solutions to the prior can often benefit the latter – it is important we continue to seek out these multifaceted solutions. The foremost priority of which should be leveraging the tremendous job growth potential within green energy fields to combat inequity. Increased funding for economic and workforce development programs, job training programs, higher and skilled trade education, would all serve to combat both climate change and inequity.



3. Transportation accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions by sector in our region - 40%. What strategies would you utilize to discourage the use of gas-powered cars to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles, mass transit, biking, and walking in our district?


Combatting greenhouse gas emissions requires a holistic approach that includes many facets of our community and transportation is an integral piece of this puzzle. I continue to seek ways to encourage the use of electric vehicles, mass transit, biking, walking and other more environmentally friendly modes of transportation. I was proud to support Carrie’s Law, mandating a 3-foot passing distance between cyclists and motorists, which serves to protect local cyclists whilst encouraging more participants with enhanced safety. We must continue to expand on the progress we have made within the County which has already transitioned to an over 400+ vehicle green fleet reducing our local governments role in transportation gas emissions. In addition, I strongly support County-wide community connectivity studies to seek ways to connect existing walking and bike paths for easier, more efficient traveling which would further encourage green transportation for all residents.


 

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, 2022.

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