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Rochesterians find some 'Common Ground' on the federal budget

Katie Epner

The organization is called Common Ground Solutions, founded by Howard Konar.

His group, along with another non-partisan organization, Voice of the People, hosted a gathering at the offices of the Democrat and Chronicle on Saturday, in a session sponsored by the Voice of the Voter collaborative, which includes the D & C, WXXI, 13WHAM TV and WDKX Radio.

Konar says he was encouraged by the interaction and budget discussions he saw among the 40 or so participants.

“I saw people sitting at tables of four looking at each other, talking with very different viewpoints about fairly complicated issues and I saw a lot of people, really kind of struggle, they were being asked questions about things that matter to them," Konar told WXXI News.

Among those involved in the policymaking simulation in Rochester, was Keidai Lee, who said after spending a few hours talking about the federal budget, he feels more empowered to talk about it.

Credit Katie Epner

“We live in the age of the internet and I didn’t realize how powerful this was until we sat here before these people today and now that I have a lead on where to start researching, not only do I understand my responsibility better but I feel like I have more of a right to speak on that responsibility because I understand," Lee explained.

Another participant in the Saturday session in Rochester, Maureen Doohan, says she found the exercise very useful, even if she and some of the 40 or so participants couldn't agree on everything.

"I think there are some topics in politics that you aren’t going to be always come to an agreement on,  but just kind of saying, can we live with this or what are the changes that we can make so that we can all just kind of be happy about it and having our voices heard I think is the most important part," Doohan said.

Credit Katie Epner

The two non-partisan organizations recently had a survey conducted by the University of Maryland of voters in the 25th Congressional District, which is located in Monroe County.

It showed that a majority of sample of 414 registered voters agreed on steps to reduce the nation’s deficit by more than 251 billion dollars.

You can view the survey and findings at this website.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.