Legislators to conduct meetings at churches
ROCHESTER – In an initiative arranged by the Greater Rochester Community of Churches, the public will have a chance to dialogue with Monroe County legislators on Tuesday, Nov. 18.
At 7 p.m. legislators will simultaneously headline open-forum meetings in their respective districts. According to GRCC, 25 of the 29 county legislators will take part in the one-hour meetings, known as “Focus on Democracy: Meet Your County Legislator.” Through a moderator, attendees will have the opportunity to state their priorities for county government.
All meetings will take place at area worship sites, including the following Catholic churches and facilities: St. Leo’s Church in Hilton (District 1); the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse in Pittsford (District 10); St. Thomas More Church in Brighton (District 15); Church of Christ the King in Irondequoit (District 17); Holy Rosary Church in Rochester (District 28); and St. Andrew’s Church in Rochester (District 29).
“Our purpose is simply to bring citizens together with their legislators without a particular agenda,” said Sister of St. Joseph Beth LeValley, president of GRCC.
“We see this as an opportunity to understand more about county government and to be more responsible and informed citizens while at the same time having an open, public forum to represent citizen concerns,” Sister LeValley added.
GRCC, a coalition of Catholic and Protestant congregations, has been planning the meetings for several months. Sister LeValley and Marvin Mich, a GRCC board member, said the meetings are an outgrowth of GRCC’s involvement in county budget concerns a year ago. Mich said potential areas of discussion on Nov. 18 include the proposed 2004 county budget which calls for the elimination of several social-service programs as well as employment and taxation issues.
Despite these often controversial topics, Mich said the evening’s chief purpose is to bring about “relation-building” rather than acrimony between legislators and their constituents. He also said that it’s important for local churches to help facilitate public discussion even when the topics aren’t specifically religious in nature.
“All of our Scriptures talk about care of one another. And to do that, you have to be involved in the (political) process. We should be supportive of democracy and democratic forums,” commented Mich, who serves as Catholic Family Center’s director of social policy and research.
Yet Mich also cited the need for a renewed sense of involvement from the citizenship. “To be honest, a lot of people don’t even know who their legislators are,” he remarked.
EDITOR’S NOTE: To find out about the Nov. 18 meeting in your district, call 585/254-2570.