Decision 2023: Adam Bello makes his pitch for a second term as Monroe County executive

Decision 2023 – interview with Adam Bello

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Election Day is nearing and one of the key races in Monroe County is for county executive.

News10NBC sat down with both candidates.

Democrat Adam Bello is running for a second term. He is being challenged by Republican Mark Assini.

Bello was sworn in on Jan. 1, 2020. Two months later, he found himself trying to navigate through a worldwide pandemic.

So that’s where we started our conversation.

Brett Davidsen: “How do you think going through that has impacted how you lead or how you govern?”
Adam Bello: “Well, it has changed my view of what my role and responsibility is.”
Adam Bello: “My role was the public. My role was to make sure that the community knew what was going on, what was the response, and that we were going to be okay. But this is what we had to do to be okay. And in many ways, that changed the way I thought about county government even moving forward.”

As the pandemic started to fade, a new concern arose: public safety. Homicides and shootings are a regular occurrence. We have record car thefts and gun arrests, and the criminals are getting younger.

Brett Davidsen: “Your opponent says a big reason for the spike in violence is the reform measures put into place by Democrats in Albany, effectively creating a lack of accountability. Do you agree with that assessment?”
Adam Bello: “Well, I do believe that the criminal justice reforms that were done by Albany need to be changed. And I’ve been a loud advocate of that.”
Bello says he has advocated for a dangerousness standard that would give judges more leeway in setting bail. He also touted investments in the sheriff’s and district attorney’s offices as well as the crime lab.

Brett Davidsen: “The opioid crisis. This was a crisis when you entered into this office. It remains a crisis today. What more should you be doing?”
Adam Bello: “You need a couple of different things. First, you need to understand the data. So what we did and to understand what rate because you need to understand where the epidemic is moving. So we created a dashboard.”
Adam Bello: “The second thing we did is we utilized the opioid settlement dollars.”
Adam Bello: “We took the opioid dollars and we invested them in public health responses. So right now we have clinicians that work out in the community. Every time there’s an overdose that we’re aware of through, you know, our law enforcement and other partners, we actually send a clinician to meet with that person. We meet with their families, and we try to help connect them to help.”

Our conversation then turned to the migrant crisis and the asylum-seekers brought in from New York City who are now being housed in Rochester.

Brett Davidsen: “We’re now housing hundreds of asylum-seekers in our county. Many counties around the state put out emergency orders saying that they were going to stop that, prevent that. And the governor herself said counties shouldn’t be forced to accept migrants. You took a different path. You put together a set of parameters before accepting these folks. Why did you make that decision?”
Adam Bello: “Well, we made that decision for a few different reasons. First is that those counties that prohibit migrants from coming there received them anyways and they ended up spending a lot of taxpayer dollars fight this in court.”
Adam Bello: “So we needed to know who’s paying for that and then who the responsible party is. And then it also gave the county the ability to revisit those contracts and those responsibilities to make sure that it’s happening.”
Brett Davidsen: “Can you assure taxpayers that this isn’t costing them anything?
Adam Bello: “This is not costing Monroe County taxpayers. Obviously, New York City is paying. New York State has costs and responsibilities, but we’re not paying for any of those things.”

We also talked about the cost of living in Monroe County.

Brett Davidsen: “When we talk about taxes, it’s no secret New York has one of the highest tax burdens in the nation. Monroe County, one of the highest effective tax rates in the country. I know you’ve cut the tax rate the last few years and the tax levy increases have shrunk. But what can be done so that people feel like they can afford to stay here.”
Adam Bello: “At the end of the day, what’s going to drive down taxes is economic growth, and it’s economic activity at the the end of the day. That’s what’s going to drive this down. That’s why we’re in a position next year for the levy to be flat, right? So I’m going to produce a budget. The levy is going to be flat next year. I’ve made that commitment. So what’s going to do to help people again, is that the pie is going to remain the same, right? Because we’re not going to grow the number. We’re not going to grow it because we have had economic growth. there will be more people paying from that pie. It’s going to shrink what the average payment is. For existing homeowners you’re going to start to see that. You will see that next year. But we need economic growth.”

We finished up our interview talking about collaboration.

Brett Davidsen: “When asked, routinely voters say they want to see politicians work together. Can you think of a time during your term as county executive where you feel like you collaborated well with your republican colleagues in government?”
Adam Bello: “100 percent. The American Rescue Plan is the best example. We got $140 million that came to us from the federal government and we had to decide between the county executive, 29 legislators, and two political parties.
Adam Bello: “We worked together and in a bipartisan way passed the American Rescue Act that’s investing in the community right now. And I’m very proud of the way we did that.”

See full interview below.

Our conversation with Mark Assini airs Friday at 11 p.m.