As we close out 2022 and the end of my first term as your Assemblymember, I want to take a moment of gratitude to acknowledge everyone who has helped make this year a success. First, I want to thank all of you who have contacted our office with questions, comments and concerns. The time you take to participate in government helps everyone in our community: You help us do our jobs better and serve every citizen in this great state. It is an honor to serve you and to be re-elected to another term. Thank you for the trust you place in me and my office.
Next, I want to thank my incredible staff who work tirelessly to serve our constituents and keep our office moving. Thank you to Iris Bieri, who served as Chief of Staff during our first term. Iris has recently taken a position with the Rochester Area Community Foundation, where she will continue to serve our most vulnerable populations. She will be missed. Thank you to Chloe Dervin, who served us as Deputy Chief of Staff, and has been promoted to Chief of Staff. If any of you visited us in Albany, you were likely greeted by Chloe. Thank you to Heather Neu, our dedicated and passionate Legislative Director. Heather helps track bills and budget asks, draft legislation, and coordinate grants for the community. Thank you to Ellie Rosenfeld, who has worked as our Constituent Liaison and will now serve as District Director in the new year. If you call or visit our district office, you were likely greeted by Ellie at the front desk. Thank you to Ahkirah Reid, who joins us as a Legislative Aide during her break from Howard University School of Law. And thank you to Nayeliz Santiago, our Albany intern, who will rejoin our office as part-time staff in the Capitol next year. This team is the reason our office has been able to respond so quickly to constituent needs and provide top quality service to the 135th District.
I also want to thank my family, Scott and Mackay, who provide unwavering support and love that allow me to do this work, which often takes me away from them.I genuinely could not do this without them.
We had an amazing year full of accomplishments, both large and small.For our Pines of Perinton residents, who began this year with a devastating fire, we worked closely with the community to ensure all displaced families were rehomed quickly and provided with all the necessary services and support. We hosted a Know Your Rights presentation and a separate individualized legal clinic for Pines residents to help them advocate for better living conditions, and met several times with the ownership of the Pines to facilitate important health and safety modifications necessary in the community.
We hosted a first-of-its-kind roundtable, in partnership with Assemblymember Sarah Clark, with OPWDD Commission Kerri Neifeld, who appeared in person, along with representatives from area volunteer service organizations and families of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We discussed the incredible need for housing and long-term planning for I/DD adults with aging parents, and helped identify key issues affecting Spanish-speaking and foreign-born residents struggling to access services.
We passed a budget full of enormous wins for our region, including a huge expansion of childcare subsidies to middle income families; hundreds of millions of dollars for local infrastructure projects including improvements to the Inner Loop, the Zoo, and Frontier Field; and a $4.2 Billion Environmental Bond Act, which later passed on the ballot as well, which will help fund important climate projects.
We also provided important funding to local projects in our district as well, including grant money for upgrades to our Bushnell’s Basin and Egypt Fire Departments, an expansion of the Penfield Ambulance building, a new skatepark for the Town of Perinton, stream bed reconstruction in Penfield, and an elevator upgrade in East Rochester’s Eyer Building. We also provided funding for seniors through iCircle, a program of CDS Life Transitions in Webster and a grant to the Fairport Village Police for equipment upgrades.
We celebrated the bicentennial of the opening of the Erie Canal in Fairport, which helped usher in a century of prosperity to our corner of the state. Our office also helped two constituents place their homes on the National Register of Historic Places, an important and powerful distinction that helps honor the legacy and history of our community.
In Albany, we had the great pleasure of hosting the Penfield First Robotics Team 1511: Rolling Thunder, in honor of our STEAM Day resolution. Team 1511 took home the Chairman’s Award (again!) at this year’s First Robotics World Championship. These same students will host an advocacy conference this week where they will help other First Robotics teams learn how to advocate for legislation. I am proud to contribute my experience and expertise to that event as a guest speaker.
Legislatively, we passed eight bills, which include providing property tax relief for volunteer first responders; making it easier for different governments to share services, which keeps costs for services lower; and helping dispel the stigma around mental health and substance abuse treatment for our veterans.
We accomplished so much this year, but there is much still to be done. In the New Year, I will update you on the Governor’s budget proposal and will be soliciting feedback on your goals and priorities. As always, it is my honor to serve you.
Now, let’s get back to work!