Co-chairs of the Commission on Racial and Structural Equity joined Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and County Executive Adam Bello in selecting commissioners to serve on the 21-member body.
“We are both excited and thankful for this groundbreaking opportunity to fundamentally modify and strengthen every level of our government, so that we can provide a more equitable future for our families and children,” Warren said. “There is no better time to dig deep into our policies, practices and procedures that may implicitly or explicitly impede the advancement of select groups of our community, particularly Black and brown people. Having a fully functioning Commission on Racial and Structural Equity will undoubtedly improve our efforts to create more jobs, safer and more vibrant neighborhoods, and better educational opportunities for our residents for generations to come.”
“This commission comes at a pivotal time for our community,” Bello said “This work is long overdue and we are committed to leading the way for equity for all. I am confident that with the help and guidance of the Commission on Racial and Structural Equity, we can make effective and lasting changes to our policies, procedures and practices. We will eliminate barriers that unfairly hold people back and create disproportionate outcomes for our Black and brown citizens. Together with the commission, we will create an environment of diversity, of respect and inclusion. Monroe County and Rochester will set the standard for equitable communities.”
RASE received 225 applications to which 21 commissioner members have been chosen. Of the 21 members, eight were selected by Bello and Warren: Sheriff Todd Baxter; Monroe County Legislature Majority Leader Steve Brew, R-12th District; City Councilman Mitch Gruber; Legislator Frank Keophetlasy, D-28th District; Willie Lightfoot, vice president of the Rochester City Council; Michael Mazzeo, president of the Rochester Police Locust Club; Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary; and Richard Tantalo, director of public safety for Monroe County.
The remaining 13 positions were filled through a community selection process that included representatives from organizations, community groups and residents: Kim Nghlem and Damond Wilson, of Brighton; Sady Fischer, of Henrietta; Denishea Ortiz, of Irondequoit; Luis Ormaechea, of Penfield; Aaron Anandarajah and Stephanie Townsend, of Pittsford; and Logan Brown, Eric Caine, Marcus Dunn, Karen Elam, Danielle Ponder and Catherine Thomas, of Rochester.
Applicants who were not selected to serve on the Commission will have the opportunity to participate in other activities. There will be numerous ways to become involved with RASE through nine working groups. Staff and consultants will provide technical assistance as the groups review the identified areas of policing, human and social services, job creation, business development, housing, education, health care, mental health and addiction services, and equitable treatment in the criminal justice system.
RASE was announced as a joint county-city venture this summer by Warren and Bello. It will examine and develop policies and legislation to overcome systemic and institutional inequities, as well as racism, in Rochester and Monroe County. The Commission will have six months from formation to report back to the community.
Former Mayor William Johnson Jr.; Arline Santiago, senior VP and general counsel at ESL Federal Credit Union and Muhammad Shafiq, executive director of the Hickey Center of Interfaith Studies and Dialogue at Nazareth College, serve as co-chairs to the Commission.
Visit rocrase.com for information.